Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The Parisians — Volume 11
Author: Lytton, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Baron
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Parisians — Volume 11" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



                              THE PARISIANS

                         By Edward Bulwer-Lytton


                                 BOOK XI.


CHAPTER I.

Amoung the frets and checks to the course that "never did run smooth,"
there is one which is sufficiently frequent, for many a reader will
remember the irritation it caused him.  You have counted on a meeting
with the beloved one unwitnessed by others, an interchange of confessions
and vows which others may not hear.  You have arranged almost the words
in which your innermost heart is to be expressed; pictured to yourself
the very looks by which those words will have their sweetest reply.  The
scene you have thus imagined appears to you vivid and distinct, as if
foreshown in a magic glass.  And suddenly, after long absence, the
meeting takes place in the midst of a common companionship: nothing that
you wished to say can be said.  The scene you pictured is painted out by
the irony of Chance; and groups and backgrounds of which you had never
dreamed start forth from the disappointing canvas.  Happy if that be all!
But sometimes, by a strange, subtle intuition, you feel that the person
herself is changed; and sympathetic with that change, a terrible chill
comes over your own heart.

Before Graham had taken his seat at the table beside Isaura, he felt that
she was changed to him.  He felt it by her very touch as their hands met
at the first greeting,--by the tone of her voice in the few words that
passed between them,--by the absence of all glow in the smile which had
once lit up her face, as a burst of sunshine lights up a day in spring,
and gives a richer gladness of colour to all its blooms.  Once seated
side by side they remained for some moments silent.  Indeed, it would
have been rather difficult for anything less than the wonderful
intelligence of lovers between whom no wall can prevent the stolen
interchange of tokens, to have ventured private talk of their own amid
the excited converse which seemed all eyes, all tongues, all ears,
admitting no one present to abstract himself from the common emotion.
Englishmen do not recognise the old classic law which limited the number
of guests, where banquets are meant to be pleasant, to that of the Nine-
Muses.  They invite guests so numerous, and so shy of launching talk
across the table, that you may talk to the person next to you not less
secure from listeners than you would be in talking with the stranger whom
you met at a well in the Sahara.  It is not so, except on state
occasions, at Paris.  Difficult there to retire into solitude with your
next neighbour.  The guests collected by Duplessis completed with himself
the number of the Sacred Nine--the host, Valerie, Rochebriant, Graham,
Isaura, Signora Venosta, La Duchesse de Tarascon, the wealthy and high-
born Imperialist, Prince --------, and last and least, one who shall be
nameless.

I have read somewhere, perhaps in one of the books which American
superstition dedicates to the mysteries of Spiritualism, how a gifted
seer, technically styled medium, sees at the opera a box which to other
eyes appears untenanted and empty, but to him is full of ghosts, well
dressed in _costume de-regle_, gazing on the boards and listening to the
music.  Like such ghosts are certain beings whom I call Lookers-on.
Though still living, they have no share in the life they survey, they
come as from another world to hear and to see what is passing in ours.
In ours they lived once, but that troubled sort of life they have
survived.  Still we amuse them as stage-players and puppets amuse
ourselves.  One of these Lookers-on completed the party at the house of
Duplessis.

How lively, how animated the talk was at the financier's pleasant table
that day, the 8th of July!  The excitement of the coming war made itself
loud in every Gallic voice, and kindled in every Gallic eye.  Appeals at
every second minute were made, sometimes courteous, sometimes sarcastic,
to the Englishman--promising son of an eminent statesman, and native of a
country in which France is always coveting an ally, and always suspecting
an enemy.  Certainly Graham could not have found a less propitious moment
for asking Isaura if she really were changed.  And certainly the honour
of Great Britain was never less ably represented (that is saying a great
deal) than it was on this occasion by the young man reared to diplomacy
and aspiring to Parliamentary distinction.  He answered all questions
with a constrained voice and an insipid smile,--all questions pointedly
addressed to him as to what demonstrations of admiring sympathy with the
gallantry of France might be expected from the English Government and
people; what his acquaintance with the German races led him to suppose
would be the effect on the Southern States of the first defeat of the
Prussians; whether the man called Moltke was not a mere strategist on
paper, a crotchety pedant; whether, if Belgium became so enamoured of the
glories of France as to solicit fusion with her people, England would
have a right to offer any objection,&c., &c.  I do not think that during
that festival Graham once thought one-millionth so much about the fates
of Prussia and France as he did think, "Why is that girl so changed to
me?  Merciful heaven! is she lost to my life?"

By training, by habit, even by passion, the man was a genuine politician,
cosmopolitan as well as patriotic, accustomed to consider what effect
every vibration in that balance of European power, which no deep thinker
can despise, must have on the destinies of civilised humanity, and on
those of the nation to which he belongs.  But are there not moments in
life when the human heart suddenly narrows the circumference to which its
emotions are extended?  As the ebb of a tide, it retreats from the shores
it had covered on its flow, drawing on with contracted waves the
treasure-trove it has selected to hoard amid its deeps.



CHAPTER II.

On quitting the dining-room, the Duchesse de Tarascon said to her host,
on whose arm she was leaning, "Of course you and I must go with the
stream.  But is not all the fine talk that has passed to-day at your
table, and in which we too have joined, a sort of hypocrisy?  I may say
this to you; I would say it to no other."

"And I say to you, Madame la Duchesse, that which I would say to no
other.  Thinking over it as I sit alone, I find myself making a 'terrible
hazard;' but when I go abroad and become infected by the general
enthusiasm, I pluck up gaiety of spirit, and whisper to myself, 'True,
but it may be an enormous gain.'  To get the left bank of the Rhine is a
trifle; but to check in our next neighbour a growth which a few years
hence would overtop us,--that is no trifle.  And, be the gain worth the
hazard or not, could the Emperor, could any Government likely to hold its
own for a week, have declined to take the chance of the die?"

The Duchesse mused a moment, and meanwhile the two seated themselves on a
divan in the corner of the salon.  Then she said very slowly--

"No Government that held its tenure on popular suffrage could have done
so.  But if the Emperor had retained the personal authority which once
allowed the intellect of one man to control and direct the passions of
many, I think the war would have been averted.  I have reason to know
that the Emperor gave his emphatic support to the least bellicose members
of the Council, and that Gramont's speech did not contain the passage
that precipitates hostilities when the Council in which it was framed
broke up.  These fatal Ministers found the Chamber, and the reports of
the popular excitement which could not be resisted without imminent
danger of revolution.  It is Paris that has forced the war on the
Emperor.  But enough of this subject.  What must be, must, and, as you
say, the gain may be greater than the hazard.  I come to something else
you whispered to me before we went in to dinner,--a sort of complaint
which wounds me sensibly.  You say I had assisted to a choice of danger
and possibly of death a very distant connection of mine, who might have
been a very near connection of yours.  You mean Alain de Rochebriant?"

"Yes; I accept him as a suitor for the hand of my only daughter."

"I am so glad, not for your sake so much as for his.  No one can know him
well without appreciating in him the finest qualities of the finest order
of the French noble; but having known your pretty Valerie so long, my
congratulations are for the man who can win her.  Meanwhile, hear my
explanation: when I promised Alain any interest I can command for the
grade of officer in a regiment of Mobiles, I knew not that he had formed,
or was likely to form, ties or duties to keep him at home.  I withdraw my
promise."

"No, Duchesse, fulfil it.  I should be disloyal indeed if I robbed a
sovereign under whose tranquil and prosperous reign I have acquired,
with no dishonour, the fortune which Order proffers to Commerce, of one
gallant defender in the hour of need.  And, speaking frankly, if Alain
were really my son, I think I am Frenchman enough to remember that France
is my mother."

"Say no more, my friend--say no more," cried the Duchesse, with the warm
blood of the heart rushing through all the delicate coatings of pearl-
powder.  "If every Frenchman felt as you do; if in this Paris of ours all
hostilities of class may merge in the one thought of the common country;
if in French hearts there yet thrills the same sentiment as that which,
in the terrible days when all other ties were rent asunder, revered
France as mother, and rallied her sons to her aid against the confederacy
of Europe,--why, then, we need not grow pale with dismay at the sight of
a Prussian needle-gun.  Hist! look yonder: is not that a tableau of Youth
in Arcady?  Worlds rage around, and Love, unconcerned, whispers to Love!"
The Duchesse here pointed to a corner of the adjoining room in which
Alain and Valerie sat apart, he whispering into her ear; her cheek
downcast, and, even seen at that distance, brightened by the delicate
tenderness of its blushes.



CHAPTER III.

But in that small assembly there were two who did not attract the notice
of Duplessis or of the lady of the Imperial Court.  While the Prince ----
and the placid Looker-on were engaged at a contest of ecarte, with the
lively Venosta, for the gallery, interposing criticisms and admonitions,
Isaura was listlessly turning over a collection of photographs, strewed
on a table that stood near to an open window in the remoter angle of the
room, communicating with a long and wide balcony filled partially with
flowers and overlooking the Champs Elysees, softly lit up by the
innumerable summer stars.  Suddenly a whisper, the command of which she
could not resist, thrilled through her ear, and sent the blood rushing
back to her heart.

"Do you remember that evening at Enghien?  how I said that our
imagination could not carry us beyond the question whether we two should
be gazing together that night twelve months on that star which each of us
had singled out from the hosts of heaven?  That was the 8th of July.  It
is the 8th of July once more.  Come and seek for our chosen star--come.
I have something to say, which say I must.  Come."

Mechanically, as it were,--mechanically, as they tell us the Somnambulist
obeys the Mesmeriser,--Isaura obeyed that summons.  In a kind of dreamy
submission she followed his steps, and found herself on the balcony,
flowers around her and stars above, by the side of the man who had been
to her that being ever surrounded by flowers and lighted by stars,--the
ideal of Romance to the heart of virgin Woman.

"Isaura," said the Englishman, softly.  At the sound of her own name for
the first time heard from those lips, every nerve in her frame quivered.
"Isaura, I have tried to live without you.  I cannot.  You are all in all
to me: without you it seems to me as if earth had no flowers, and even
heaven had withdrawn its stars.  Are there differences between us,
differences of taste, of sentiments, of habits, of thought?  Only let me
hope that you can love me a tenth part so much as I love you, and such
differences cease to be discord.  Love harmonises all sounds, blends all
colours into its own divine oneness of heart and soul.  Look up! is not
the star which this time last year invited our gaze above, is it not
still there?  Does it not still invite our gaze?  Isaura, speak!"

"Hush, hush, hush,"--the girl could say no more, but she recoiled from
his side.

The recoil did not wound him: there was no hate in it.  He advanced, he
caught her hand, and continued, in one of those voices which become so
musical in summer nights under starry skies:

"Isaura, there is one name which I can never utter without a reverence
due to the religion which binds earth to heaven--a name which to man
should be the symbol of life cheered and beautified, exalted, hallowed.
That name is 'wife.'  Will you take that name from me?"

And still Isaura made no reply.  She stood mute, and cold, and rigid as a
statue of marble.  At length, as if consciousness had been arrested and
was struggling back, she sighed heavily, and passed her hands slowly over
her forehead.

"Mockery, mockery," she said then, with a smile half bitter, half
plaintive, on her colourless lips.  "Did you wait to ask me that question
till you knew what my answer must be?  I have pledged the name of wife to
another."

"No, no; you say that to rebuke, to punish me!  Unsay it! unsay it!"

Isaura beheld the anguish of his face with bewildered eyes.  "How can my
words pain you?" she said, drearily.  "Did you not write that I had
unfitted myself to be wife to you?"

"I?"

"That I had left behind me the peaceful immunities of private life?  I
felt you were so right!  Yes!  I am affianced to one who thinks that in
spite of that misfortune--"

"Stop, I command you--stop!  You saw my letter to Mrs. Morley.  I have
not had one moment free from torture and remorse since I wrote it.  But
whatever in that letter you might justly resent--"

"I did not resent--"

Graham heard not the interruption, but hurried on.  "You would forgive
could you read my heart.  No matter.  Every sentiment in that letter,
except those which conveyed admiration, I retract.  Be mine, and instead
of presuming to check in you the irresistible impulse of genius to the
first place in the head or the heart of the world, I teach myself to
encourage, to share, to exult in it.  Do you know what a difference there
is between the absent one and the present one--between the distant image
against whom our doubts, our fears, our suspicions, raise up hosts of
imaginary giants, barriers of visionary walls, and the beloved face
before the sight of which the hosts are fled, the walls are vanished?
Isaura, we meet again.  You know now from my own lips that I love you.  I
think your lips will not deny that you love me.  You say that you are
affianced to another.  Tell the man frankly, honestly, that you mistook
your heart.  It is not yours to give.  Save yourself, save him, from a
union in which there can be no happiness."

"It is too late," said Isaura, with hollow tones, but with no trace of
vacillating weakness on her brow and lips.  "Did I say now to that other
one, 'I break the faith that I pledged to you,' I should kill him, body
and soul.  Slight thing though I be, to him I am all in all; to you, Mr.
Vane, to you a memory--the memory of one whom a year, perhaps a month,
hence, you will rejoice to think you have escaped."

She passed from him--passed away from the flowers and the starlight; and
when Graham,--recovering from the stun of her crushing words, and with
the haughty mien and stop of the man who goes forth from the ruin of his
hopes, leaning for support upon his pride,--when Graham re-entered the
room, all the guests had departed save only Alain, who was still
exchanging whispered words with Valerie.



CHAPTER IV.

The next day, at the hour appointed, Graham entered Alain's apartment.
"I am glad to tell you," said the Marquis, gaily, "that the box has
arrived, and we will very soon examine its contents.  Breakfast claims
precedence."  During the meal Alain was in gay spirits, and did not at
first notice the gloomy countenance and abstracted mood of his guest.  At
length, surprised at the dull response to his lively sallies on the part
of a man generally so pleasant in the frankness of his speech, and the
cordial ring of his sympathetic laugh, it occurred to him that the change
in Graham must be ascribed to something that had gone wrong in the
meeting with Isaura the evening before; and remembering the curtness with
which Graham had implied disinclination to converse about the fair
Italian, he felt perplexed how to reconcile the impulse of his good
nature with the discretion imposed on his good-breeding.  At all events,
a compliment to the lady whom Graham had so admired could do no harm.

"How well Mademoiselle Cicogna looked last night!"

"Did she?  It seemed to me that, in health at least, she did not look
very well.  Have you heard what day M. Thiers will speak on the war?"

"Thiers?  No.  Who cares about Thiers?  Thank heaven his day is past!
I don't know any unmarried woman in Paris, not even Valerie--I mean
Mademoiselle Duplessis--who has so exquisite a taste in dress as
Mademoiselle Cicogna.  Generally speaking, the taste of a female author
is atrocious."

"Really--I did not observe her dress.  I am no critic on subjects so
dainty as the dress of ladies, or the tastes of female authors."

"Pardon me," said the beau Marquis, gravely.  "As to dress, I think that
so essential a thing in the mind of woman, that no man who cares about
women ought to disdain critical study of it.  In woman, refinement of
character is never found in vulgarity of dress.  I have only observed
that truth since I came up from Bretagne."

"I presume, my dear Marquis, that you may have read in Bretagne books
which very few not being professed scholars have ever read at Paris;
and possibly you may remember that Horace ascribes the most exquisite
refinement in dress, denoted by the untranslatable words, 'simplex
munditiis,' to a lady who was not less distinguished by the ease and
rapidity with which she could change her affection.  Of course that
allusion does not apply to Mademoiselle Cicogna, but there are many other
exquisitely dressed ladies at Paris of whom an ill-fated admirer

                                 'fidem
                    Mutatosque deos flebit.'

"Now, with your permission, we will adjourn to the box of letters."

The box being produced and unlocked, Alain looked with conscientious care
at its contents before he passed over to Graham's inspection a few
epistles, in which the Englishman immediately detected the same
handwriting as that of the letter from Louise which Richard King had
bequeathed to him.

They were arranged and numbered chronologically.


     LETTER I.

     DEAR M. LE MARQUIS,--How can I thank you sufficiently for obtaining
     and remitting to me those certificates?  You are too aware of the
     unhappy episode in my life not to know how inestimable is the
     service you render me.  I am saved all further molestation from the
     man who had indeed no right over my freedom, but whose persecution
     might compel me to the scandal and disgrace of an appeal to the law
     for protection, and the avowal of the illegal marriage into which I
     was duped.  I would rather be torn limb from limb by wild horses,
     like the Queen in the history books, than dishonour myself and the
     ancestry which I may at least claim on the mother's side, by
     proclaiming that I had lived with that low Englishman as his wife,
     when I was only--O heavens, I cannot conclude the sentence!

     "No, Mons. le Marquis, I am in no want of the pecuniary aid you so
     generously wish to press on me.  Though I know not where to address
     my poor dear uncle,--though I doubt, even if I did, whether I could
     venture to confide to him the secret known only to yourself as to
     the name I now bear--and if he hear of me at all he must believe me
     dead,--yet I have enough left of the money he last remitted to me
     for present support; and when that fails, I think, what with my
     knowledge of English and such other slender accomplishments as I
     possess, I could maintain myself as a teacher or governess in some
     German family.  At all events, I will write to you again soon, and I
     entreat you to let me know all you can learn about my uncle.  I feel
     so grateful to you for your just disbelief of the horrible calumny
     which must be so intolerably galling to a man so proud, and,
     whatever his errors, so incapable of a baseness.

     "Direct to me Poste restante, Augsburg.

     "Yours with all consideration,


LETTER II.

(Seven months after the date of Letter 1.)

     "AUGSBURG.

     "DEAR M. LE MARQUIS,--I thank you for your kind little note
     informing me of the pains you have taken, as yet with no result, to
     ascertain what has become of my unfortunate uncle.  My life since I
     last wrote has been a very quiet one.  I have been teaching among a
     few families here; and among my pupils are two little girls of very
     high birth.  They have taken so great a fancy to me that their
     mother has just asked me to come and reside at their house as
     governess.  What wonderfully kind hearts those Germans have,--so
     simple, so truthful!  They raise no troublesome questions,--accept
     my own story implicitly."  Here follow a few commonplace sentences
     about the German character, and a postscript.  "I go into my new
     home next week.  When you hear more of my uncle, direct to me at the
     Countess von Rudesheim, Schloss  --  ------, near Berlin."


"Rudesheim!"  Could this be the relation, possibly the wife, of the Count
von Rudesheim with whom Graham had formed acquaintance last year?


LETTER III.

(Between three and four years after the date of the last.)

     "You startle me indeed, dear M. le Marquis.  My uncle said to have
     been recognised in Algeria under another name, a soldier in the
     Algerian army?  My dear, proud, luxurious uncle!  Ah, I cannot
     believe it, any more than you do: but I long eagerly for such
     further news as you can learn of him.  For myself, I shall perhaps
     surprise you when I say I am about to be married.  Nothing can
     exceed the amiable kindness I have received from the Rudesheims
     since I have been in their house.  For the last year especially I
     have been treated on equal terms as one of the family.  Among the
     habitual visitors at the house is a gentleman of noble birth, but
     not of rank too high, nor of fortune too great, to make a marriage
     with the French widowed governess a misalliance.  I am sure that he
     loves me sincerely; and he is the only man I ever met whose love I
     have cared to win.  We are to be married in the course of the year.
     Of course he is ignorant of my painful history, and will never learn
     it.  And after all, Louise D---- is dead.  In the home to which I am
     about to remove, there is no probability that the wretched
     Englishman can ever cross my path.  My secret is as safe with you as
     in the grave that holds her whom in the name of Louise D---- you
     once loved.  Henceforth I shall trouble you no more with my letters;
     but if you hear anything decisively authentic of my uncle's fate,
     write me a line at any time, directed as before to Madame  ----,
     enclosed to the Countess von Rudesheim.

     "And accept, for all the kindness you have ever shown me, as to one
     whom you did not disdain to call a kinswoman, the assurance of my
     undying gratitude.  In the alliance she now makes, your kinswoman
     does not discredit the name through which she is connected with the
     yet loftier line of Rochebriant."


To this letter the late Marquis had appended in pencil.  "Of course
Rochebriant never denies the claim of a kinswoman, even though a drawing-
master's daughter.  Beautiful creature, Louise, but a termagant.  I could
not love Venus if she were a termagant.  L.'s head turned by the unlucky
discovery that her mother was noble.  In one form or other, every woman
has the same disease--vanity.  Name of her intended not mentioned--easily
found out."

The next letter was dated May 7, 1859, on black-edged paper, and
contained but these lines: "I was much comforted by your kind visit
yesterday, dear Marquis.  My affliction has been heavy: but for the last
two years my poor husband's conduct has rendered my life unhappy, and I
am recovering the shock of his sudden death.  It is true that I and the
children are left very ill provided for; but I cannot accept your
generous offer of aid.  Have no fear as to my future fate.  Adieu, my
dear Marquis!  This will reach you just before you start for Naples. _Bon
voyage_."  There was no address on this note-no postmark on the envelope-
evidently sent by hand.

The last note, dated 1861, March 20, was briefer than its predecessor.
"I have taken your advice, dear Marquis; and, overcoming all scruples, I
have accepted his kind offer, on the condition that I am never to be
taken to England.  I had no option in this marriage.  I can now own to
you that my poverty had become urgent.--Yours, with inalienable
gratitude.  This last note, too, was without postmark, and was evidently
sent by hand.

"There are no other letters, then, from this writer?" asked Graham; "and
no further clue as to her existence?"

"None that I have discovered; and I see now why I preserved these
letters.  There is nothing in their contents not creditable to my poor
father.  They show how capable he was of good-natured disinterested
kindness towards even a distant relation of whom he could certainly not
have been proud, judging not only by his own pencilled note, or by the
writer's condition as a governess, but by her loose sentiments as to the
marriage tie.  I have not the slightest idea who she could be.  I never
at least heard of one connected, however distantly, with my family, whom
I could identify with the writer of these letters."

"I may hold them a short time in my possession?"

"Pardon me a preliminary question.  If I may venture to form a
conjecture, the object of your search must be connected with your
countryman, whom the lady politely calls the 'wretched Englishman;' but I
own I should not like to lend, through these letters, a pretence to any
steps that may lead to a scandal in which my father's name or that of any
member of my family could be mixed up."

"Marquis, it is to prevent the possibility of all scandal that I ask you
to trust these letters to my discretion."

"_Foi de gentilhomme_?"

"_Foi de gentilhomme_!"

"Take them.  When and where shall we meet again?"

"Soon, I trust; but I must leave Paris this evening.  I am bound to
Berlin in quest of this Countess von Rudesheim: and I fear that in a very
few days intercourse between France and the German frontier will be
closed upon travellers."

After a few more words not worth recording, the two young men shook hands
and parted.



CHAPTER V.

It was with an interest languid and listless indeed, compared with that
which he would have felt a day before, that Graham mused over the
remarkable advances towards the discovery of Louise Duval which were made
in the letters he had perused.  She had married, then, first a foreigner,
whom she spoke of as noble, and whose name and residence could be easily
found through the Countess von Rudesheim.  The marriage did not seem to
have been a happy one.  Left a widow in reduced circumstances, she
had married again, evidently without affection.  She was living so late
as 1861, and she had children living is 1859: was the child referred to
by Richard King one of them?

The tone and style of the letters served to throw some light on the
character of the writer: they evinced pride, stubborn self-will, and
unamiable hardness of nature; but her rejection of all pecuniary aid from
a man like the late Marquis de Rochebriant betokened a certain dignity of
sentiment.  She was evidently, whatever her strange ideas about her first
marriage with Richard King, no vulgar woman of gallantry; and there must
have been some sort of charm about her to have excited a friendly
interest in a kinsman so remote, and a man of pleasure so selfish, as her
high-born correspondent.

But what now, so far as concerned his own happiness, was the hope, the
probable certainty, of a speedy fulfilment of the trust bequeathed to
him?  Whether the result, in the death of the mother, and more especially
of the child, left him rich, or, if the last survived, reduced his
fortune to a modest independence, Isaura was equally lost to him, and
fortune became valueless.  But his first emotions on recovering from the
shock of hearing from Isaura's lips that she was irrevocably affianced to
another, were not those of self-reproach.  They were those of intense
bitterness against her who, if really so much attached to him as he had
been led to hope, could within so brief a time reconcile her heart to
marriage with another.  This bitterness was no doubt unjust; but I
believe it to be natural to men of a nature so proud and of affections so
intense as Graham's, under similar defeats of hope.  Resentment is the
first impulse in a man loving with the whole ardour of his soul,
rejected, no matter why or wherefore, by the woman by whom he had cause
to believe he himself was beloved; and though Graham's standard of honour
was certainly the reverse of low, yet man does not view honour in the
same light as woman does, when involved in analogous difficulties of
position.  Graham conscientiously thought that if Isaura so loved him
as to render distasteful an engagement to another which could only very
recently have been contracted, it would be more honourable frankly so to
tell the accepted suitor than to leave him in ignorance that her heart
was estranged.  But these engagements are very solemn things with girls
like Isaura, and hers was no ordinary obligation of woman-honour.  Had
the accepted one been superior in rank-fortune--all that flatters the
ambition of woman in the choice of marriage; had he been resolute, and
strong, and self-dependent amid the trials and perils of life--then
possibly the woman's honour might find excuse in escaping the penalties
of its pledge.  But the poor, ailing, infirm, morbid boy-poet, who looked
to her as his saving angel in body, in mind, and soul-to say to him,
"Give me back my freedom," would be to abandon him to death and to sin.
But Graham could not of course divine why what he as a man thought right
was to Isaura as woman impossible: and he returned to his old prejudiced
notion that there is no real depth and ardour of affection for human
lovers in the poetess whose mind and heart are devoted to the creation of
imaginary heroes.  Absorbed in reverie, he took his way slowly and with
downcast looks towards the British embassy, at which it was well to
ascertain whether the impending war yet necessitated special passports
for Germany.

"_Bon-jour, cher ami_," said a pleasant voice; "and how long have you
been at Paris?"

"Oh, my dear M. Savarin!  charmed to see you looking so well!  Madame
well too, I trust?  My kindest regards to her.  I have been in Paris but
a day or two, and I leave this evening."

"So soon?  The war frightens you away, I suppose.  Which way are you
going now?"

"To the British embassy."

"Well, I will go with you so far--it is in my own direction.  I have to
call at the charming Italian's with my congratulations--on news I only
heard this morning."

"You mean Mademoiselle Cicogna--and the news that demands congratulations
--her approaching marriage!"

"_Mon Dieu_! when could you have heard of that?"

"Last night at the house of M. Duplessis."

"_Parbleu_!  I shall scold her well for confiding to her new friend
Valerie the secret she kept from her old friends, my wife and myself."

"By the way," said Graham, with a tone of admirably-feigned indifference,
"who is the happy man?  That part of the secret I did not hear."

"Can't you guess?"

"NO."

"Gustave Rameau."

"Ah!" Graham almost shrieked, so sharp and shrill was his cry.  "Ah!  I
ought indeed to have guessed that!"

"Madame Savarin, I fancy, helped to make up the marriage.  I hope it may
turn out well; certainly it will be his salvation.  May it be for her
happiness!"

"No doubt of that!  Two poets-born for each other, I dare say.  Adieu, my
dear Savarin!  Here we are at the embassy."



CHAPTER VI.

That evening Graham found himself in the coupe of the express train to
Strasbourg.  He had sent to engage the whole coupe to himself, but that
was impossible.  One place was bespoken as far as C-------, after which
Graham might prosecute his journey alone on paying for the three places.

When he took his seat another man was in the further corner whom he
scarcely noticed.  The train shot rapidly on for some leagues.  Profound
silence in the coupe, save at moments those heavy impatient sighs that
came from the very depths of the heart, and of which he who sighs is
unconscious, burst from the Englishman's lips, and drew on him the
observant side-glance of his fellow-traveller.

At length the fellow-traveller said in very good English, though with
French accent, "Would you object, sir, to my lighting my little carriage-
lantern?  I am in the habit of reading in the night train, and the
wretched lamp they give us does not permit that.  But if you wish to
sleep, and my lantern would prevent you doing so, consider my request
unasked."

"You are most courteous, sir.  Pray light your lantern--that will not
interfere with my sleep."

As Graham thus answered, far away from the place and the moment as his
thoughts were, it yet faintly struck him that he had heard that voice
before.

The man produced a small lantern, which he attached to the window-sill,
and drew forth from a small leathern bag sundry newspapers and pamphlets.
Graham flung himself back, and in a minute or so again came his sigh.

"Allow me to offer you those evening journals--you may not have had time
to read them before starting," said the fellow-traveller, leaning
forward, and extending the newspapers with one hand, while with the other
he lifted his lantern.  Graham turned, and the faces of the two men were
close to each other--Graham with his travelling-cap drawn over his brows,
the other with head uncovered.

"Monsieur Lebeau!"

"Bon soir, Mr. Lamb!"

Again silence for a moment or so.  Monsieur Lebeau then broke it--

"I think, Mr. Lamb, that in better society than that of the Faubourg
Montmartre you are known under another name."  Graham had no heart then
for the stage-play of a part, and answered, with quiet haughtiness,
"Possibly--and what name?"

"Graham Vane.  And, sir," continued Lebeau, with a haughtiness equally
quiet, but somewhat more menacing, "since we two gentlemen find ourselves
thus close, do I ask too much if I inquire why you condescend to seek my
acquaintance in disguise?"

"Monsieur le Vicomte de Mauleon, when you talk of disguise, is it too
much to inquire why my acquaintance was accepted by Monsieur Lebeau?"

"Ha!  Then you confess that it was Victor de Mauleon whom you sought when
you first visited the cafe Jean Jacques?"

"Frankly I confess it."

Monsieur Lebeau drew himself back, and seemed to reflect.

"I see!  Solely for the purpose of learning whether Victor de Mauleon
could give you any information about Louise Duval.  Is it so?"

"Monsieur le Vicomte, you say truly."

Again M. Lebeau paused as if in reflection; and Graham, in that state of
mind when a man who may most despise and detest the practice of duelling,
may yet feel a thrill of delight if some homicide would be good enough to
put him out of his misery, flung aside his cap, lifted his broad frank
forehead, and stamped his foot impatiently as if to provoke a quarrel.

M. Lebeau lowered his spectacles, and, with those calm, keen, searching
eyes of his, gazed at the Englishman.

"It strikes me," he said, with a smile, the fascination of which not even
those faded whiskers could disguise--"it strikes me that there are two
ways in which gentlemen such as you and I are can converse: firstly, with
reservation and guard against each other; secondly, with perfect
openness.  Perhaps of the two I have more need of reservation and wary
guard against any stranger than you have.  Allow me to propose the
alternative--perfect openness.  What say you?" and he extended his hand.

"Perfect openness," answered Graham, softened into sudden liking for this
once terrible swordsman, and shaking, as an Englishman shakes, the hand
held out to him in peace by the man from whom he had anticipated quarrel.

"Permit me now, before you address any questions to me, to put one to
you.  How did you learn that Victor de Mauleon was identical with Jean
Lebeau?"

"I heard that from an agent of the police."

"Ah!"

"Whom I consulted as to the means of ascertaining whether Louise Duval
was alive,--if so, where she could be found."

"I thank you very much for your information.  I had no notion that the
police of Paris had divined the original alias of poor Monsieur Lebeau,
though something occurred at Lyons which made me suspect it.  Strange
that the Government, knowing through the police that Victor de Mauleon,
a writer they had no reason to favour, had been in so humble a position,
should never, even in their official journals, have thought it prudent to
say so!  But, now I think of it, what if they had?  They could prove
nothing against Jean Lebeau.  They could but say, 'Jean Lebeau is
suspected to be too warm a lover of liberty, too earnest a friend of the
people, and Jean Lebeau is the editor of La Sens Commun.'  Why, that
assertion would have made Victor de Mauleon the hero of the Reds, the
last thing a prudent Government could desire.  I thank you cordially for
your frank reply.  Now, what question would you put to me?"

"In one word, all you can tell me about Louise Duval."

"You shall have it.  I had heard vaguely in my young days that a half-
sister of mine by my father's first marriage with Mademoiselle de
Beauvilliers had--when in advanced middle life he married a second time
--conceived a dislike for her mother-in-law, and, being of age, with an
independent fortune of her own, had quitted the house, taken up her
residence with an elderly female relative, and there had contracted a
marriage with a man who gave her lessons in drawing.  After that
marriage, which my father in vain tried to prevent, my sister was
renounced by her family.  That was all I knew till, after I came into my
inheritance by the death of both my parents, I learned from my father's
confidential lawyer that the drawing-master, M. Duval, had soon
dissipated his wife's fortune, become a widower with one child--a girl--
and fallen into great distress.  He came to my father, begging for
pecuniary aid.  My father, though by no means rich, consented to allow
him a yearly pension, on condition that he never revealed to his child
her connection with our family.  The man agreed to the condition, and
called at my father's lawyer quarterly for his annuity.  But the lawyer
informed me that this deduction from my income had ceased, that M. Duval
had not for a year called or sent for the sum due to him, and that he
must therefore be dead.  One day my valet informed me that a young lady
wished to see me--in those days young ladies very often called on me.  I
desired her to be shown in.  There entered a young creature, almost of my
own age, who, to my amazement saluted me as uncle.  This was the child of
my half-sister.  Her father had been dead several months, fulfilling very
faithfully the condition on which he had held his pension, and the girl
never dreaming of the claims that, if wise, poor child, she ought not to
have cared for, viz.,--to that obsolete useless pauper birthright, a
branch on the family tree of a French noble.  But in pinch of
circumstance, and from female curiosity, hunting among the papers her
father had left for some clue to the reasons for the pension he had
received, she found letters from her mother, letters from my father,
which indisputably proved that she was grandchild to the _fue_ Vicomte de
Mauleon, and niece to myself.  Her story as told to me was very pitiable.
Conceiving herself to be nothing higher in birth than daughter to this
drawing-master, at his death, poor, penniless orphan that she was, she
had accepted the hand of an English student of medicine whom she did not
care for.  Miserable with this man, on finding by the documents I refer
to that she was my niece, she came to me for comfort and counsel.  What
counsel could I or any man give to her but to make the best of what had
happened, and live with her husband?  But then she started another
question.  It seems that she had been talking with some one, I think her
landlady, or some other woman with whom she had made acquaintance--was
she legally married to this man?  Had he not entrapped her ignorance into
a false marriage?  This became a grave question, and I sent at once to my
lawyer.  On hearing the circumstances, he at once declared that the
marriage was not legal according to the laws of France.  But, doubtless,
her English soi-disant husband was not cognisant of the French law, and a
legal marriage could, with his assent, be at once solemnised.  Monsieur
Vane, I cannot find words to convey to you the joy that poor girl showed
in her face and in her words when she learned that she was not bound to
pass her life with that man as his wife.  It was in vain to talk and
reason with her.  Then arose the other question, scarcely less important.
True, the marriage was not legal, but would it not be better on all
accounts to take steps to have it formally annulled, thus freeing her
from the harassment of any claim the Englishman might advance, and
enabling her to establish the facts in a right position, not injurious to
her honour in the eyes of any future suitor to her hand?  She would not
hear of such a proposal.  She declared that she could not bring to the
family she pined to re-enter the scandal of disgrace.  To allow that she
had made such a _misalliance_ would be bad enough in itself; but to
proclaim to the world that, though nominally the wife, she had in fact
been only the mistress of this medical student--she would rather throw
herself into the Seine.  All she desired was to fund some refuge, some
hiding-place for a time, whence she could write to the man informing him
that he had no lawful hold on her.  Doubtless he would not seek then to
molest her.  He would return to his own country, and be effaced from her
life.  And then, her story unknown, she might form a more suitable
alliance.  Fiery young creature though she was--true De Mauleon in being
so fiery--she interested me strongly.  I should say that she was
wonderfully handsome; and though imperfectly educated, and brought up in
circumstances so lowly, there was nothing common about her--a certain _je
ne sais quoi_ of stateliness and race.  At all events she did with me
what she wished.  I agreed to aid her desire of a refuge and hiding-
place.  Of course I could not lodge her in my own apartment, but I
induced a female relation of her mother's, an old lady living at
Versailles, to receive her, stating her birth, but of course concealing
her illegal marriage.

"From time to time I went to see her.  But one day I found this restless
bright-plumaged bird flown.  Among the ladies who visited at her
relative's house was a certain Madame Marigny, a very pretty young widow.
Madame Marigny and Louise formed a sudden and intimate friendship.  The
widow was moving from Versailles into an apartment at Paris, and invited
Louise to share it.  She had consented.  I was not pleased at this; for
the widow was too young, and too much of a coquette, to be a safe
companion to Louise.  But though professing much gratitude and great
regard for me, I had no power of controlling the poor girl's actions.
Her nominal husband, meanwhile, had left France, and nothing more was
heard or known of him.  I saw that the best thing that could possibly
befall Louise was marriage with some one rich enough to gratify her taste
for luxury and pomp; and that if such a marriage offered itself, she
might be induced to free it from all possible embarrassment by procuring
the annulment of the former, from which she had hitherto shrunk in such
revolt.  This opportunity presented itself.  A man already rich, and in a
career that promised to make him infinitely richer, an associate of mine
in those days when I was rapidly squandering the remnant of my
inheritance--this man saw her at the opera in company with Madame
Marigny, fell violently in love with her, and ascertaining her
relationship to me, besought an introduction.  I was delighted to give
it; and, to say the truth, I was then so reduced to the bottom of my
casket, I felt that it was becoming impossible for me to continue the aid
I had hitherto given to Louise, and--what then would become of her?  I
thought it fair to tell Louvier--"

"Louvier--the financier?"

"Ah, that was a slip of the tongue, but no matter; there is no reason
for concealing his name.  I thought it right, I say, to tell Louvier
confidentially the history of the unfortunate illegal marriage.  It did
not damp his ardour.  He wooed her to the best of his power, but she
evidently took him into great dislike.  One day she sent for me in much
excitement, showed me some advertisements in the French journals which,
though not naming her, evidently pointed at her, and must have been
dictated by her _soi-disant_ husband.  The advertisements might certainly
lead to her discovery if she remained in Paris.  She entreated my consent
to remove elsewhere.  Madame Marigny had her own reason for leaving
Paris, and would accompany her.  I supplied her with the necessary means,
and a day or two afterwards she and her friend departed, as I understood,
for Brussels.  I received no letter from her; and my own affairs so
seriously pre-occupied me, that poor Louise might have passed altogether
out of my thoughts, had it not been for the suitor she had left in
despair behind.  Louvier besought me to ascertain her address; but I
could give him no, other clue to it than that she said she was going to
Brussels, but should soon remove to some quiet village.  It was not for a
long time--I can't remember how long--it might be several weeks, perhaps
two or three months, that I received a short note from her stating that
she waited for a small remittance, the last she would accept from me, as
she was resolved, so soon as her health would permit, to find means to
maintain herself--and telling me to direct to her, Poste restante, Aix-
la-Chapelle.  I sent her the sum she asked, perhaps a little more, but
with a confession reluctantly wrung from me that I was a ruined man; and
I urged her to think very seriously before she refused the competence and
position which a union with M. Louvier would insure.

"This last consideration so pressed on me that, when Louvier called on
me, I think that day or the nests I gave him Louise's note, and told him
that, if he were still as much in love with her as ever, _les absents ont
toujours tort_, and he had better go to Aix-la-Chapelle and find her out;
that he had my hearty approval of his wooing, and consent to his
marriage, though I still urged the wisdom and fairness, if she would take
the preliminary step--which, after all, the French law frees as much as
possible from pain and scandal--of annulling the irregular marriage into
which her childlike youth had been decoyed.

"Louvier left me for Aix-la-Chapelle.  The very next day came that cruel
affliction which made me a prey to the most intolerable calumny, which
robbed me of every friend, which sent me forth from my native country
penniless, and resolved to be nameless--until--until--well, until my hour
could come again--every dog, if not hanged, has its day;--when that
affliction befell me, I quitted France, heard no more of Louvier nor of
Louise; indeed, no letter addressed to me at Paris would have reached--"

The man paused here, evidently with painful emotion.  He resumed in the
quiet matter-of-fact way in which he had commenced his narrative.

"Louise had altogether faded out of my remembrance until your question
revived it.  As it happened, the question came at the moment when I
meditated resuming my real name and social position.  In so doing, I
should of course come in contact with my old acquaintance Louvier; and
the name of Louise was necessarily associated with us. I called on him,
and made myself known.  The slight information I gave you as to my
niece was gleaned from him.

"I may now say more.  It appears that when he arrived at Aix-la-Chapelle
he found that Louise Duval had left it a day or two previously, and
according to scandal had been for some time courted by a wealthy and
noble lover, whom she had gone to Munich to meet.  Louvier believed this
tale: quitted Aix indignantly, and never heard more of her.  The
probability is, M. Vane, that she must have been long dead.  But if
living still, I feel quite sure that she will communicate with me some
day or other.  Now that I have reappeared in Paris in my own name--
entered into a career that, for good or for evil, must ere long bring my
name very noisily before the public--Louise cannot fail to hear of my
existence and my whereabouts; and unless I am utterly mistaken as to her
character, she will assuredly inform me of her own.  Oblige me with your
address, and in that case I will let you know.  Of course I take for
granted the assurance you gave me last year, that you only desire to
discover her in order to render her some benefit, not to injure or molest
her?"

"Certainly.  To that assurance I pledge my honour.  Any letter with which
you may favour me had better be directed to my London address; here is my
card.  But, M. le Vicomte, there is one point on which pray pardon me if
I question you still.  Had you no suspicion that there was one reason why
this lady might have quitted Paris so hastily, and have so shrunk from
the thought of a marriage so advantageous, in a worldly point of view, as
that with M. Louvier,--namely, that she anticipated the probability of
becoming the mother of a child by the man whom she refused to acknowledge
as a husband?"

"That idea did not strike me until you asked me if she had a child.
Should your conjecture be correct, it would obviously increase her
repugnance to apply for the annulment of her illegal marriage.  But if
Louise is still living and comes across me, I do not doubt that, the
motives for concealment no longer operating, she will confide to me the
truth.  Since we have been talking together thus frankly, I suppose I may
fairly ask whether I do not guess correctly in supposing that this _soi-
disant_ husband, whose name I forget,--Mac--something, perhaps, Scotch-I
think she said he was _Ecossais_,--is dead and has left by will some
legacy to Louise and any child she may have borne to him?"

"Not exactly so.  The man, as you say, is dead; but he bequeathed no
legacy to the lady who did not hold herself married to him.  But there
are those connected with him who, knowing the history, think that some
compensation is due for the wrong so unconsciously done to her, and yet
more to any issue of a marriage not meant to be irregular or illegal.
Permit me now to explain why I sought you in another guise and name than
my own.  I could scarcely place in M. Lebeau the confidence which I now
unreservedly place in the Vicomte de Mauleon."

"_Cela va sans dire_.  You believed, then, that calumny about the jewels;
you do not believe it now?"

"Now!  my amazement is, that any one who had known you could believe it."

"Oh, how often, and with tears of rage in my exile--my wanderings--have I
asked that question of myself!  That rage has ceased; and I have but one
feeling left for that credulous, fickle Paris, of which one day I was the
idol, the next the byword.  Well, a man sometimes plays chess more
skilfully for having been long a mere bystander.  He understands better
how to move, and when to sacrifice the pieces.  Politics, M. Vane, is the
only exciting game left to me at my years.  At yours, there is still that
of love.  How time flies! we are nearing the station at which I descend.
I have kinsfolk of my mother's in these districts.  They are not
Imperialists; they are said to be powerful in the department.  But before
I apply to them in my own name, I think it prudent that M. Lebeau should
quietly ascertain what is their real strength, and what would be the
prospects of success if Victor de Mauleon offered himself as depute at
the next election.  Wish him joy, M. Vane!  If he succeed, you will hear
of him some day crowned in the Capitol, or hurled from the Tarpeian
rock."

Here the train stopped.  The false Lebeau gathered up his papers,
readjusted his spectacles and his bag, descended lightly, and, pressing
Graham's hand as he paused at the door, said, "Be sure I will not forget
your address if I have anything to say. _Bon voyage_"



CHAPTER VII.

Graham continued his journey to Strasbourg.  On arriving there he felt
very unwell.  Strong though his frame was, the anguish and self-struggle
through which he had passed since the day he had received in London Mrs.
Morley's letter, till that on which he had finally resolved on his course
of conduct at Paris, and the shock which had annihilated his hopes in
Isaura's rejection, had combined to exhaust its endurance, and fever had
already commenced when he took his place in the coupe.  If there be a
thing which a man should not do when his system is undermined, and his
pulse between 90 and 100, it is to travel all night by a railway express.
Nevertheless, as the Englishman's will was yet stronger than his frame,
he would not give himself more than an hour's rest, and again started for
Berlin.  Long before he got to Berlin, the will failed him--as well as
the frame.  He was lifted out of the carriage, taken to a hotel in a
small German town, and six hours afterwards he was delirious.  It was
fortunate for him that under such circumstances plenty of money and
Scott's circular-notes for some hundreds were found in his pocketbook,
so that he did not fail to receive attentive nursing and skilful medical
treatment.  There, for the present, I must leave him--leave him for how
long?  But any village apothecary could say that fever such as his must
run its course.  He was still in bed, and very dimly--and that but at
times--conscious, when the German armies were gathering round the penfold
of Sedan.



CHAPTER VIII.

When the news of the disastrous day at Sedan reached Paris, the first
effect was that of timid consternation.  There were a few cries of
_Decheance_! fewer still of _Vive la Republique_ among the motley crowds;
but they were faint, and chiefly by ragged _gamins_.  A small body
repaired to Trochu and offered him the sceptre, which he politely
declined.  A more important and respectable body--for it comprised the
majority of the _Corps Legislatif_--urged Palikao to accept the temporary
dictatorship, which the War Minister declined with equal politeness.  In
both these overtures it was clear that the impulse of the proposers was
towards any form of government rather than republican.  The _sergens de
ville_ were sufficient that day to put down riot.  They did make a charge
on a mob, which immediately ran away.

The morning of that day the Council of Ten were summoned by Lebeau--minus
only Rameau, who was still too unwell to attend, and the Belgian, not
then at Paris; but their place was supplied by the two travelling
members, who had been absent from the meeting before recorded.  These
were conspirators better known in history than those I have before
described; professional conspirators--personages who from their youth
upwards had done little else but conspire.  Following the discreet plan
pursued elsewhere throughout this humble work, I give their names other
than they bore.  One, a very swarthy and ill-favoured man, between forty
and fifty, I call Paul Grimm--by origin a German, but by rearing and
character French; from the hair on his head, staring up rough and ragged
as a bramblebush, to the soles of small narrow feet, shod with dainty
care, he was a personal coxcomb, and spent all he could spare on his
dress.  A clever man, not ill-educated--a vehement and effective speaker
at a club.  Vanity and an amorous temperament had made him a conspirator,
since he fancied he interested the ladies more in that capacity than any
other.  His companion, Edgar Ferrier, would have been a journalist, only
hitherto his opinions had found no readers; the opinions were those of
Marat.  He rejoiced in thinking that his hour for glory, so long
deferred, had now arrived.  He was thoroughly sincere: his father and
grandfather had died in a madhouse.  Both these men, insignificant in
ordinary times, were likely to become of terrible importance in the
crisis of a revolution.  They both had great power with the elements that
form a Parisian mob.  The instructions given to these members of the
Council by Lebeau were brief: they were summed up in the one word,
_Decheance_.  The formidable nature of a council apparently so meanly
constituted became strikingly evident at that moment, because it was so
small in number, while each one of these could put in movement a large
section of the populace; secondly, because, unlike a revolutionary club
or a numerous association, no time was wasted in idle speeches, and all
were under the orders of one man of clear head and resolute purpose; and
thirdly, and above all, because one man supplied the treasury, and money
for an object desired was liberally given and promptly at hand.  The
meeting did not last ten minutes, and about two hours afterwards its
effects were visible.  From Montmartre and Belleville and Montretout
poured streams of _ouvriers_, with whom Armand Monnier was a chief, and
the _Medecin des Pauvres_ an oracle.  Grimm and Ferrier headed other
detachments that startled the well-dressed idlers on the Boulevards.  The
stalwart figure of the Pole was seen on the Place de la Concorde,
towering amidst other refugees, amid which glided the Italian champion of
humanity.  The cry of _Decheance_ became louder.  But as yet there were
only few cries of _Vive la Republique_!--such a cry was not on the orders
issued by Lebeau.  At midnight the crowd round the hall of the _Corps
Legislatif_ is large: cries of _La Dechaeance_ loud--a few cries, very
feeble, of _Vive la Republique_!

What followed on the 4th--the marvellous audacity with which half-a-dozen
lawyers belonging to a pitiful minority in a Chamber elected by universal
suffrage walked into the Hotel de Ville and said, "The Republic is
established, and we are its Government," history has told too recently
for me to narrate.  On the evening of the 5th the Council of Ten met
again: the Pole; the Italian radiant; Grimm and Ferrier much excited and
rather drunk; the Medecin des Pauvres thoughtful; and Armand Monnier
gloomy.  A rumour has spread that General Trochu, in accepting the charge
imposed on him, has exacted from the Government the solemn assurance of
respect for God, and for the rights of Family and Property.  The Atheist
is very indignant at the assent of the Government to the first
proposition; Monnier equal indignant at the assent to the second and
third.  What has that honest _ouvrier_ conspired for?--what has he
suffered for?--of late nearly starved for?--but to marry another man's
wife, getting rid of his own, and to legalise a participation in the
property of his employer,--and now he is no better off than before.
"There must be another revolution," he whispers to the Atheist.

"Certainly," whispers back the Atheist; "he who desires to better this
world must destroy all belief in another."  The conclave was assembled
when Lebeau entered by the private door.  He took his place at the head
of the table; and, fixing on the group eyes that emitted a cold gleam
through the spectacles, thus spoke:

"Messieurs, or Citoyens, which ye will--I no longer call ye confreres--
you have disobeyed or blundered my instructions.  On such an occasion
disobedience and blunder are crimes equally heinous."

Angry murmurs.

"Silence!  Do not add mutiny to your other offences.  My instructions
were simple and short.  Aid in the abolition of the Empire.  Do not aid
in any senseless cry for a Republic or any other form of government.
Leave that to the Legislature.  What have you done?  You swelled the
crowd that invaded the _Corps Ligislatif_.  You, Dombinsky, not even a
Frenchman, dare to mount the President's rostrum, and brawl forth your
senseless jargon.  You, Edgar Ferrier, from whom I expected better,
ascend the tribune, and invite the ruffians in the crowd to march to the
prisons and release the convicts; and all of you swell the mob at the
Hotel de Ville, and inaugurate the reign of folly by creating an
oligarchy of lawyers to resist the march of triumphal armies.  Messieurs,
I have done with you.  You are summoned for the last time: the Council is
dissolved."

With these words Lebeau put on his hat, and turned to depart.  But the
Pole, who was seated near him, sprang to his feet, exclaiming, "Traitor,
thou shalt not escape!  Comrades, he wants to sell us!"

"I have a right to sell you at least, for I bought you, and a very bad
bargain I made," said Lebeau, in a tone of withering sarcasm.

"Liar!" cried the Pole, and seized Lebeau by the left hand, while with
the right he drew forth a revolver.  Ferrier and Grimm, shouting, "_A bas
le renegat_!" would have rushed forward in support of the Pole, but
Monnier thrust himself between them and their intended victim, crying
with a voice that dominated their yell, "Back!--we are not assassins."
Before he had finished the sentence the Pole was on his knees.  With a
vigour which no one could have expected from the seeming sexagenarian,
Lebeau had caught the right arm of his assailant, twisted it back so
mercilessly as almost to dislocate elbow and shoulder joint.  One barrel
of the revolver discharged itself harmlessly against the opposite wall,
and the pistol itself then fell from the unnerved hand of the would-be
assassin; and what with the pain and the sudden shock, the stalwart
Dombinsky fell in the attitude of a suppliant at the feet of his
unlooked-for vanquisher.

Lebeau released his hold, possessed himself of the pistol, pointing the
barrels towards Edgar Ferrier, who stood with mouth agape and lifted arm
arrested, and said quietly: "Monsieur, have the goodness to open that
window."  Ferrier mechanically obeyed.  "Now, hireling," continued
Lebeau, addressing the vanquished Pole, "choose between the door and the
window."

"Go, my friend," whispered the Italian.  The Pole did not utter a word;
but rising nimbly, and rubbing his arm, stalked to the door.  There he
paused a moment and said, "I retire overpowered by numbers," and
vanished.

"Messieurs," resumed Lebeau, calmly, "I repeat that the Council is
dissolved.  In fact its object is fulfilled more abruptly than any of us
foresaw, and by means which I at least had been too long out of Paris to
divine as possible.  I now see that every aberration of reason is
possible to the Parisians.  The object that united us was the fall of the
Empire.  As I have always frankly told you, with that object achieved,
separation commences.  Each of us has his own crotchet, which differs
from the other man's.  Pursue yours as you will--I pursue mine--you will
find Jean Lebeau no more in Paris: _il s'eface.  Au plaisir, mais pas au
revoir_."

He retreated to the masked door and disappeared.

Marc le Roux, the porter or custos of that ruinous council-hall, alarmed
at the explosion of the pistol, had hurried into the room, and now stood
unheeded by the door with mouth agape, while Lebeau thus curtly dissolved
the assembly.  But when the president vanished through the secret
doorway, Le Roux also retreated.  Hastily descending the stairs, he made
as quickly as his legs could carry him for the mouth of the alley in the
rear of the house, through which he knew that Lebeau must pass.  He
arrived, panting and breathless, in time to catch hold of the ex-
president's arm.  "Pardon, citizen," stammered he, "but do I understand
that you have sent the Council of Ten to the devil?"

"I?  Certainly not, my good Paul; I dismiss them to go where they like.
If they prefer the direction you name, it is their own choice.  I
declined to accompany them, and I advise you not to do so."

"But, citizen, have you considered what is to become of Madame?  Is she
to be turned out of the lodge?  Are my wages to stop, and Madame to be
left without a crust to put into her soup?"

"Not so bad as that; I have just paid the rent of the baraque for three
months in advance, and there is your quarter's pay, in advance also.  My
kind regards to Madame, and tell her to keep your skin safe from the
schemes of these lunatics."  Thrusting some pieces of gold into the hands
of the porter, Lebeau nodded his adieu, and hastened along his way.

Absorbed in his own reflections, he did not turn to look behind.  But if
he had, he could not have detected the dark form of the porter, creeping
in the deep shadow of the streets with distant but watchful footsteps.



CHAPTER, IX.

The conspirators, when left by their president, dispersed in deep, not
noisy resentment.  They were indeed too stunned for loud demonstration;
and belonging to different grades of life, and entertaining different
opinions, their confidence in each other seemed lost now that the chief
who had brought and kept them together was withdrawn from their union.
The Italian and the Atheist slunk away, whispering to each other.  Grimm
reproached Ferrier for deserting Dombinsky and obeying Lebeau.  Ferrier
accused Grimm of his German origin, and hinted at denouncing him as a
Prussian spy.  Gaspard le Noy linked his arm in Monnier's, and when they
had gained the dark street without, leading into a labyrinth of desolate
lanes, the Medicin des Pauvres said to the mechanic: "You are a brave
fellow, Monnier.  Lebeau owes you a good turn.  But for your cry, 'We are
not assassins,' the Pole might not have been left without support.  No
atmosphere is so infectious as that in which we breathe the same air of
revenge: when the violence of one man puts into action the anger or
suspicion of others, they become like a pack of hounds, which follow the
spring of the first hound, whether on the wild boar or their own master.
Even I, who am by no means hot-headed, had my hand on my case-knife when
the word 'assassin' rebuked and disarmed me."

"Nevertheless," said Monnier, gloomily, "I half repent the impulse which
made me interfere to save that man.  Better he should die than live to
betray the cause we allowed him to lead."

"Nay, mon ami, speaking candidly, we must confess that he never from the
first pretended to advocate the cause for which you conspired.  On the
contrary, he always said that with the fall of the Empire our union would
cease, and each become free to choose his own way towards his own after-
objects."

"Yes," answered Armand, reluctantly; "he said that to me privately, with
still greater plainness than he said it to the Council.  But I answered
as plainly."

"How?"

"I told him that the man who takes the first step in a revolution, and
persuades others to go along with him, cannot in safety stand still or
retreat when the next step is to be taken.  It is 'en avant' or 'a la
lanterne.'  So it shall be with him.  Shall a fellow-being avail himself
of the power over my mind which he derives from superior education or
experience,--break into wild fragments my life, heretofore tranquil,
orderly, happy,--make use of my opinions, which were then but harmless
desires, to serve his own purpose, which was hostile to the opinions he
roused into action,--say to me, 'Give yourself up to destroy the first
obstacle in the way of securing a form of society which your inclinations
prefer,' and then, that first obstacle destroyed, cry, 'Halt!  I go with
you no further; I will not help you to piece together the life I have
induced you to shatter; I will not aid you to substitute for the society
that pained you the society that would please; I leave you, struggling,
bewildered, maddened, in the midst of chaos within and without you'?
Shall a fellow-being do this, and vanish with a mocking cry: 'Tool!  I
have had enough of thee; I cast thee aside as worthless lumber'?  Ah!
let him beware!  The tool is of iron, and can be shaped to edge and
point."  The passion with which this rough eloquence was uttered, and the
fierce sinister expression that had come over a countenance habitually
open and manly, even when grave and stern, alarmed and startled Le Noy.
"Pooh, my friend!" he said, rather falteringly, "you are too excited now
to think justly.  Go home and kiss your children.  Never do anything that
may make them shrink from their father.  And as to Lebeau, try and forget
him.  He says he shall disappear from Paris.  I believe him.  It is clear
to me that the man is not what he seemed to us.  No man of sixty could by
so easy a sleight of hand have brought that giant Pole to his knee.  If
Lebeau reappear it will be in some other form.  Did you notice that in
the momentary struggle his flaxen wig got disturbed, and beneath it I saw
a dark curl.  I suspect that the man is not only younger than he seemed,
but of higher rank--a conspirator against one throne, perhaps, in order
to be minister under another.  There are such men."

Before Monnier, who seemed struck by these conjectures, collected his
thoughts to answer, a tall man in the dress of a _sous lieutenant_
stopped under a dim gas-lamp, and, catching sight of the artisan's face,
seized him by the hand, exclaiming, "Armand, _mon frere_! well met;
strange times, eh?  Come and discuss them at the cafe de Lyon yonder over
a bowl of punch.  I'll stand treat."

"Agreed, dear Charles."

"And if this monsieur is a friend of yours, perhaps he will join us."

"You are too obliging, Monsieur," answered Le Noy, not ill-pleased to get
rid of his excited companion; "but it has been a busy day with me, and I
am only fit for bed.  Be abstinent of the punch, Armand.  You are
feverish already.  Good-night, Messieurs."

The cafe de Lyon, in vogue among the National Guard of the quartier, was
but a few yards off, and the brothers turned towards it arm in arm.  "Who
is the friend?" asked Charles; "I don't remember to have seen him with
thee before."

"He belongs to the medical craft--a good patriot and a kind man--attends
the poor gratuitously.  Yes, Charles, these are strange times; what dost
thou think will come of them?"

They had now entered the cafe; and Charles had ordered the punch, and
seated himself at a vacant table before he replied.  "What will come of
these times?  I will tell thee.  National deliverance and regeneration
through the ascendency of the National Guard."

"Eh?  I don't take," said Armand, bewildered.

"Probably not," answered Charles, with an air of compassionate conceit;
"thou art a dreamer, but I am a politician."  He tapped his forehead
significantly.  "At this custom-house, ideas are examined before they are
passed."

Armand gazed at his brother wistfully, and with a defence he rarely
manifested towards any one who disputed his own claims to superior
intelligence.  Charles was a few years older than Monnier; he was of
large build; he had shaggy lowering eyebrows, a long obstinate upper
lip, the face of a man who was accustomed to lay down the law.
Inordinate self-esteem often gives that character to a physiognomy
otherwise commonplace.  Charles passed for a deep thinker in his own
set, which was a very different set from Armand's--not among workmen but
small shopkeepers.  He had risen in life to a grade beyond Armand's; he
had always looked to the main chance, married the widow of a hosier and
glover much older than himself, and in her right was a very respectable
tradesman, comfortably well off; a Liberal, of course, but a Liberal
bourgeois, equally against those above him and those below.  Needless to
add that he had no sympathy with his brother's socialistic opinions.
Still he loved that brother as well as he could love any one except
himself.  And Armand, who was very affectionate, and with whom family
ties were very strong, returned that love with ample interest; and
though so fiercely at war with the class to which Charles belonged, was
secretly proud of having a brother who was of that class.  So in England
I have known the most violent antagonist of the landed aristocracy--
himself a cobbler--who interrupts a discourse on the crimes of the
aristocracy by saying, "Though I myself descend from a county family."

In an evil day Charles Monnier, enrolled in the National Guard, had
received promotion in that patriotic corps.  From that date he began to
neglect his shop, to criticise military matters, and to think that if
merit had fair play he should be a Cincinnatus or a Washington, he had
not decided which.

"Yes," resumed Charles, ladling out the punch, "thou hast wit enough to
perceive that our generals are imbeciles or traitors; that _gredin_
Bonaparte has sold the army for ten millions of francs to Bismarck, and I
have no doubt that Wimpffen has his share of the bargain.  McMahon was
wounded conveniently, and has his own terms for it.  The regular army is
nowhere.  Thou wilt see--thou wilt see--they will not stop the march of
the Prussians.  Trochu will be obliged to come to the National Guard.
Then we shall say, 'General, give us our terms, and go to sleep.'

"I shall be summoned to the council of war.  I have my plan.  I explain
it--'tis accepted--it succeeds.  I am placed in supreme command--the
Prussians are chased back to their sour-krout.  And I--well--I don't like
to boast, but thou'lt see--thou'lt see--what will happen."

"And thy plan, Charles--thou hast formed it already?"

"Ay, ay,--the really military genius is prompt, _mon petit Armand_--a
flash of the brain.  Hark ye!  Let the Vandals come to Paris and invest
it.  Whatever their numbers on paper, I don't care a button; they can
only have a few thousands at any given point in the vast circumference of
the capital.  Any fool must grant that--thou must grant it eh?"

"It seems just."

"Of course.  Well, then, we proceed by sorties of 200,000 men repeated
every other day, and in twelve days the Prussians are in full flight.
The country rises on their flight--they are cut to pieces.  I depose
Trochu--the National Guard elects the Saviour of France.  I have a place
in my eye for thee.  Thou art superb as a decorator--thou shalt be
Minister des Beaux Arts.  But keep clear of the canaille.  No more
strikes then--thou wilt be an employer--respect thy future order."

     [Charles Monnier seems to have indiscreetly blabbed out his "idea,"
     for it was plagiarised afterwards at a meeting of the National
     Guards in the Salle de la Bourse by Citizen Rochebrune (slain 19th
     January, 1871, in the affair of Montretout).  The plan, which he
     developed nearly in the same words as Charles Monnier, was received
     with lively applause; and at the close of his speech it was proposed
     to name at once Citizen Rochebrune General of the National Guard, an
     honour which, unhappily for his country, the citizen had the modesty
     to decline.]

Armand smiled mournfully.  Though of intellect which, had it been
disciplined, was far superior to his brother's, it was so estranged from
practical opinions, so warped, so heated, so flawed and cracked in parts,
that he did not see the ridicule of Charles's braggadocio.  Charles had
succeeded in life, Armand had failed; and Armand believed in the worldly
wisdom of the elder born.  But he was far too sincere for any bribe to
tempt him to forsake his creed and betray his opinions.  And he knew that
it must be a very different revolution from that which his brother
contemplated, that could allow him to marry another man's wife, and his
"order" to confiscate other people's property.

"Don't talk of strikes, Charles.  What is done is done.  I was led into
heading a strike, not on my own account, for I was well paid and well
off, but for the sake of my fellow-workmen.  I may regret now what I did,
for the sake of Marie and the little ones.  But it is an affair of
honour, and I cannot withdraw from the cause till my order, as thou
namest my class, has its rights."

"Bah! thou wilt think better of it when thou art an employer.  Thou hast
suffered enough already.  Remember that I warned thee against that old
fellow in spectacles whom I met once at thy house.  I told thee he would
lead thee into mischief, and then leave thee to get out of it.  I saw
through him.  I have a head!  Va!"

"Thou wert a true prophet--he has duped me.  But in moving me he has set
others in movement; and I suspect he will find he has duped himself.
Time will show."

Here the brothers were joined by some loungers belonging to the National
Guard.  The talk became general, the potations large.  Towards daybreak
Armand reeled home, drunk for the first time in his life.  He was one of
those whom drink makes violent.  Marie had been sitting up for him,
alarmed at his lengthened absence.  But when she would have thrown
herself on his breast, her pale face and her passionate sobs enraged him.
He flung her aside roughly.  From that night the man's nature was
changed.  If, as a physiognomist has said, each man has in him a portion
of the wild beast, which is suppressed by mild civilising circumstances,
and comes uppermost when self-control is lost, the nature of many an
honest workman, humane and tender-hearted as the best of us, commenced a
change into the wild beast that raged through the civil war of the
Communists, on the day when half-a-dozen Incapables, with no more claim
to represent the people of Paris than half-a-dozen monkeys would have,
were allowed to elect themselves to supreme power, and in the very fact
of that election released all the elements of passion, and destroyed all
the bulwarks of order.



CHAPTER X.

No man perhaps had more earnestly sought and more passionately striven
for the fall of the Empire than Victor de Mauleon; and perhaps no man was
more dissatisfied and disappointed by the immediate consequences of that
fall, In first conspiring against the Empire, he had naturally enough,
in common with all the more intelligent enemies of the dynasty, presumed
that its fate would be worked out by the normal effect of civil causes--
the alienation of the educated classes, the discontent of the artisans,
the eloquence of the press and of popular meetings, strengthened in
proportion as the Emperor had been compelled to relax the former checks
upon the license of either.  And De Mauleon had no less naturally
concluded that there would be time given for the preparation of a
legitimate and rational form of government to succeed that which was
destroyed.  For, as has been hinted or implied, this remarkable man was
not merely an instigator of revolution through the Secret Council, and
the turbulent agencies set in movement through the lower strata of
society;--he was also in confidential communication with men eminent for
wealth, station, and political repute, from whom he obtained the funds
necessary for the darker purposes of conspiracy, into the elaboration of
which they did not inquire; and these men, though belonging like himself
to the Liberal party, were no hot-blooded democrats.  Most of them were
in favour of constitutional monarchy; all of them for forms of government
very different from any republic in which socialists or communists could
find themselves uppermost.  Among these politicians were persons
ambitious and able, who, in scheming for the fall of the Empire, had been
prepared to undertake the task of conducting to ends compatible with
modern civilisation the revolution they were willing to allow a mob at
Paris to commence.  The opening of the war necessarily suspended their
designs.  How completely the events of the 4th September mocked the
calculations of their ablest minds, and paralysed the action of their
most energetic spirits, will appear in the conversation I am about to
record.  It takes place between Victor de Mauleon and the personage to
whom he had addressed the letter written on the night before the
interview with Louvier, in which Victor had announced his intention of
reappearing in Paris in his proper name and rank.  I shall designate this
correspondent as vaguely as possible; let me call him the Incognito.  He
may yet play so considerable a part in the history of France as a potent
representative of the political philosophy of De Tocqueville--that is,
of Liberal principles incompatible with the absolute power either of a
sovereign or a populace, and resolutely opposed to experiments on the
foundations of civilised society--that it would be unfair to himself and
his partisans if, in a work like this, a word were said that could lead
malignant conjecture to his identity with any special chief of the
opinions of which I here present him only as a type.

The Incognito, entering Victor's apartment:

"My dear friend, even if I had not received your telegram, I should have
hastened hither on the news of this astounding revolution.  It is only in
Paris that such a tragedy could be followed by such a farce.  You were on
the spot--a spectator.  Explain it if you can."

DE MAULEON.--"I was more than a spectator; I was an actor.  Hiss me--
I deserve it.  When the terrible news from Sedan reached Paris, in the
midst of the general stun and bewilderment I noticed a hesitating
timidity among all those who had wares in their shops and a good coat on
their backs.  They feared that to proclaim the Empire defunct would be to
install the Red Republic with all its paroxysm of impulsive rage and all
its theories of wholesale confiscation.  But since it was impossible for
the object we had in view to let slip the occasion of deposing the
dynasty which stood in its way, it was necessary to lose no time in using
the revolutionary part of the populace for that purpose.  I assisted in
doing so; my excuse is this--that in a time of crisis a man of action
must go straight to his immediate object, and in so doing employ the
instruments at his command.  I made, however, one error in judgment which
admits no excuse: I relied on all I had heard, and all I had observed, of
the character of Trochu, and I was deceived, in common, I believe, with
all his admirers, and three parts of the educated classes of Paris."

INCOGNITO.--"I should have been equally deceived!  Trochu's conduct is a
riddle that I doubt if he himself can ever solve.  He was master of the
position; he had the military force in his hands if he combined with
Palikao, which, whatever the jealousies between the two, it was his
absolute duty to do.  He had a great prestige--"

DE MAULEON.--"And for the moment a still greater popularity.  His _ipse
dixit_ could have determined the wavering and confused spirits of the
population.  I was prepared for his abandonment of the Emperor--even of
the Empress and the Regency.  But how could I imagine that he, the man of
moderate politics, of Orleanistic leanings, the clever writer, the fine
talker, the chivalrous soldier, the religious Breton, could abandon
everything that was legal, everything that could save France against the
enemy, and Paris against civil discord; that he would connive at the
annihilation of the Senate, of the popular Assembly, of every form of
Government that could be recognised as legitimate at home or abroad,
accept service under men whose doctrines were opposed to all his
antecedents, all his professed opinions, and inaugurate a chaos under the
name of a Republic!"

INCOGNITO.--"How, indeed?  How suppose that the National Assembly, just
elected by a majority of seven millions and a half, could be hurried into
a conjuring-bog, and reappear as the travesty of a Venetian oligarchy,
composed of half-a-dozen of its most unpopular members!  The sole excuse
for Trochu is, that he deemed all other considerations insignificant
compared with the defence of Paris, and the united action of the nation
against the invaders.  But if that were his honest desire in siding with
this monstrous usurpation of power, he did everything by which the desire
could be frustrated.  Had there been any provisional body composed of men
known and esteemed, elected by the Chambers, supported by Trochu and the
troops at his back, there would have been a rallying-point for the
patriotism of the provinces; and in the wise suspense of any constitution
to succeed that Government until the enemy were chased from the field,
all partisans--Imperialists, Legitimists, Orleanists, Republicans--would
have equally adjourned their differences.  But a democratic Republic,
proclaimed by a Parisian mob for a nation in which sincere democratic
Republicans are a handful, in contempt of an Assembly chosen by the
country at large; headed by men in whom the provinces have no trust, and
for whom their own representatives are violently cashiered;--can you
conceive such a combination of wet blankets supplied by the irony of Fate
for the extinction of every spark of ardour in the population from which
armies are to be gathered in haste, at the beck of usupers they distrust
and despise?  Paris has excelled itself in folly.  Hungering for peace,
it proclaims a Government which has no legal power to treat for it.
Shrieking out for allies among the monarchies, it annihilates the hope of
obtaining them; its sole chance of escape from siege, famine, and
bombardment, is in the immediate and impassioned sympathy of the
provinces; and it revives all the grudges which the provinces have long
sullenly felt against the domineering pretensions of the capital, and
invokes the rural populations, which comprise the pith and sinew of
armies, in the name of men whom I verily believe they detest still more
than they do the Prussians.  Victor, it is enough to make one despair of
his country!  All beyond the hour seems anarchy and ruin."

"Not so!" exclaimed De Mauleon.  "Everything comes to him who knows how
to wait.  The Empire is destroyed; the usurpation that follows it has no
roots.  It will but serve to expedite the establishment of such a
condition as we have meditated and planned--a constitution adapted to our
age and our people, not based wholly on untried experiments, taking the
best from nations that do not allow Freedom and Order to be the sport of
any popular breeze.  From the American Republic we must borrow the only
safeguards against the fickleness of the universal suffrage which, though
it was madness to concede in any ancient community, once conceded cannot
be safely abolished,--viz., the salutary law that no article of the
Constitution, once settled, can be altered without the consent of two-
thirds of the legislative body.  By this law we insure permanence, and
that concomitant love for institutions which is engendered by time and
custom.  Secondly, the formation of a senate on such principles as may
secure to it in all times of danger a confidence and respect which
counteract in public opinion the rashness and heat of the popular
assembly.  On what principles that senate should be formed, with what
functions invested, what share of the executive--especially in foreign
affairs, declarations of war, or treaties of peace--should be accorded to
it, will no doubt need the most deliberate care of the ablest minds.  But
a senate I thus sketch has alone rescued America from the rashness of
counsel incident to a democratic Chamber; and it is still more essential
to France, with still more favourable elements for its creation.  From
England we must borrow the great principle that has alone saved her from
revolution--that the head of the State can do no wrong.  He leads no
armies, he presides over no Cabinet.  All responsibility rests with
his advisers; and where we upset a dynasty, England changes an
administration.  Whether the head of the State should have the title of
sovereign or president, whether he be hereditary or elected, is a
question of minor importance impossible now to determine, but on which I
heartily concur with you that hereditary monarchy is infinitely better
adapted to the habits of Frenchmen, to their love of show and of honours
--and infinitely more preservative from all the dangers which result from
constant elections to such a dignity, with parties so heated, and
pretenders to the rank so numerous--than any principle by which a popular
demagogue or a successful general is enabled to destroy the institutions
he is elected to guard.  On these fundamental doctrines for the
regeneration of France I think we are agreed.  And I believe when the
moment arrives to promulgate them, through an expounder of weight like
yourself, they will rapidly commend themselves to the intellect of
France.  For they belong to common sense; and in the ultimate prevalence
of common-sense I have a faith which I refuse to medievalists who would
restore the right divine; and still more to fanatical quacks, who imagine
that the worship of the Deity, the ties of family, and the rights of
property are errors at variance with the progress of society. _Qui
vivera, verra_."

INCOGNITO.--"In the outlines of the policy you so ably enunciate I
heartily concur.  But if France is, I will not say to be regenerated, but
to have fair play among the nations of Europe, I add one or two items to
the programme.  France must be saved from Paris, not by subterranean
barracks and trains, the impotence of which we see to-day with a general
in command of the military force, but by conceding to France its
proportionate share of the power now monopolised by Paris.  All this
system of centralisation, equally tyrannical and corrupt, must be
eradicated.  Talk of examples from America, of which I know little--from
England, of which I know much,--what can we more advantageously borrow
from England than that diffusion of all her moral and social power which
forbids the congestion of blood in one vital part?  Decentralise!
decentralise! decentralise! will be my incessant cry, if ever the time
comes when my cry will be heard.  France can never be a genuine France
until Paris has no more influence over the destinies of France than
London has over those of England.  But on this theme I could go on till
midnight.  Now to the immediate point: what do you advise me to do in
this crisis, and what do you propose to do yourself?"

De Mauleon put his hand to his brow, and remained a few moments silent
and thoughtful.  At last he looked up with that decided expression of
face which was not the least among his many attributes for influence over
those with whom he came into contact.

"For you, on whom so much of the future depends, my advice is brief--have
nothing to do with the present.  All who join this present mockery of a
Government will share the fall that attends it--a fall from which one or
two of their body may possibly recover by casting blame on their
confreres,--you never could.  But it is not for you to oppose that
Government with an enemy on its march to Paris.  You are not a soldier;
military command is not in your rode.  The issue of events is uncertain;
but whatever it be, the men in power cannot conduct a prosperous war nor
obtain an honourable peace.  Hereafter you may be the _Deus ex machina_.
No personage of that rank and with that mission appears till the end of
the play: we are only in the first act.  Leave Paris at once, and abstain
from all action."

INCOGNITO (dejectedly).--"I cannot deny the soundness of your advice,
though in accepting it I feel unutterably saddened.  Still you, the
calmest and shrewdest observer among my friends, think there is cause for
hope, not despair.  Victor, I have more than most men to make life
pleasant, but I would lay down life at this moment with you.  You know me
well enough to be sure that I utter no melodramatic fiction when I say
that I love my country as a young man loves the ideal of his dreams--with
my whole mind and heart and soul! and the thought that I cannot now aid
her in the hour of her mortal trial is--is--"

The man's voice broke down, and he turned aside, veiling his face with a
hand that trembled.

DE MAULEON--"Courage--patience!  All Frenchmen have the first; set them
an example they much need in the second.  I, too, love my country, though
I owe to it little enough, heaven knows.  I suppose love of country is
inherent in all who are not Internationalists.  They profess only to love
humanity, by which, if they mean anything practical, they mean a rise in
wages."

INCOGNITO (rousing himself, and with a half smile).  "Always cynical,
Victor--always belying yourself.  But now that you have advised my
course, what will be your own?  Accompany me, and wait for better times."

"No, noble friend; our positions are different.  Yours is made--mine yet
to make.  But for this war I think I could have secured a seat in the
Chamber.  As I wrote you, I found that my kinsfolk were of much influence
in their department, and that my restitution to my social grade, and the
repute I had made as an Orleanist, inclined them to forget my youthful
errors and to assist my career.  But the Chamber ceases to exist.  My
journal I shall drop.  I cannot support the Government; it is not a
moment to oppose it.  My prudent course is silence."

INCOGNITO.--"But is not your journal essential to your support?"

DE MAULEON.--"Fortunately not.  Its profits enabled me to lay by for the
rainy day that has come; and having reimbursed you and all friends the
sums necessary to start it, I stand clear of all debt, and, for my
slender wants, a rich man.  If I continued the journal I should be
beggared; for there would be no readers to Common Sense in this interval
of lunacy.  Nevertheless, during this interval, I trust to other ways for
winning a name that will open my rightful path of ambition whenever we
again have a legislature in which Common Sense can be heard."

INCOGNITO.--"But how win that name, silenced as a writer?"

DE MAULEON.--"You forget that I have fought in Algeria.  In a few days
Paris will be in a state of siege; and then--and then," he added, and
very quietly dilated on the renown of a patriot or the grave of a
soldier.

"I envy you the chance of either," said the Incognito; and after a few
more brief words he departed, his hat drawn over his brows, and entering
a hired carriage which he had left at the corner of the quiet street, was
consigned to the station du --------, just in time for the next train.



CHAPTER XI.

Victor dressed and went out.  The streets were crowded.  Workmen were
everywhere employed in the childish operation of removing all insignia,
and obliterating all names that showed where an Empire had existed.  One
greasy citizen, mounted on a ladder, was effacing the words "Boulevard
Haussman," and substituting for Haussman, "Victor Hugo."

Suddenly De Mauleon came on a group of blouses, interspersed with women
holding babies and ragged boys holding stones, collected round a well-
dressed slender man, at whom they were hooting and gesticulating, with
menaces of doing something much worse.  By an easy effort of his strong
frame the Vicomte pushed his way through the tormentors, and gave his arm
to their intended victim.

"Monsieur, allow me to walk home with you."  Therewith the shrieks and
shouts and gesticulations increased.  "Another impertinent!  Another
traitor!  Drown him!  Drown them both!  To the Seine!  To the Seine!"
A burly fellow rushed forward, and the rest made a plunging push.  The
outstretched arm of De Mauleon kept the ringleader at bay.  "Mes enfans,"
cried Victor with a calm clear voice, "I am not an Imperialist.  Many of
you have read the articles signed Pierre Firmin, written against the
tyrant Bonaparte when he was at the height of his power.  I am Pierre
Firmin--make way for me."  Probably not one in the crowd had ever read a
word written by Pierre Firmin, nor even heard of the name.  But they did
not like to own ignorance; and that burly fellow did not like to
encounter that arm of iron which touched his throat.  So he cried out,
"Oh! if you are the great Pierre Firmin, that alters the case.  Make way
for the patriot Pierre!"  "But," shrieked a virago, thrusting her baby
into De Mauleon's face, "the other is the Imperialist, the capitalist,
the vile Duplessis.  At least we will have him."  De Mauleon suddenly
snatched the baby from her, and said, with imperturbable good temper,
"Exchange of prisoners.  I resign the man, and I keep the baby."

No one who does not know the humours of a Parisian mob can comprehend the
suddenness of popular change, or the magical mastery over crowds which is
effected by quiet courage and a ready joke.  The group was appeased at
once.  Even the virago laughed; and when De Mauleon restored the infant
to her arms, with a gold piece thrust into its tiny clasp, she eyed the
gold, and cried, "God bless you, citizen!" The two gentlemen made their
way safely now.

"M. de Mauleon," said Duplessis, "I know not how to thank you.  Without
your seasonable aid I should have been in great danger of life; and--
would you believe it?--the woman who denounced and set the mob on me was
one of the objects of a charity which I weekly dispense to the poor."

"Of course I believe that.  At the Red clubs no crime is more denounced
than that of charity.  It is the 'fraud against _Egalite_'--a vile trick
of the capitalist to save to himself the millions he ought to share with
all by giving a sou to one.  Meanwhile, take my advice, M. Duplessis, and
quit Paris with your young daughter.  This is no place for rich
Imperialists at present."

"I perceived that before to-day's adventure.  I distrust the looks of my
very servants, and shall depart with Valerie this evening for Bretagne."

"Ah! I heard from Louvier that you propose to pay off his mortgage on
Rochebriant, and make yourself sole proprietor of my young kinsman's
property."

"I trust you only believe half what you hear.  I mean to save Rochebriant
from Louvier, and consign it, free of charge, to your kinsman, as the dot
of his bride, my daughter."

"I rejoice to learn such good news for the head of my house.  But Alain
himself--is he not with the prisoners of war?"

"No, thank heaven.  He went forth an officer of a regiment of Parisian
Mobiles--went full of sanguine confidence; he came back with his regiment
in mournful despondency.  The undiscipline of his regiment, of the
Parisian Mobiles generally, appears incredible.  Their insolent
disobedience to their officers, their ribald scoffs at their general
--oh, it is sickening to speak of it!  Alain distinguished himself by
repressing a mutiny and is honoured by a signal compliment from the
commander in a letter of recommendation to Palikao.  But Palikao is
nobody now.  Alain has already been sent into Bretagne, commissioned to
assist in organising a corps of Mobiles in his neighbourhood.  Trochu, as
you know, is a Breton.  Alain is confident of the good conduct of the
Bretons.  What will Louvier do?  He is an arch Republican; is he pleased
now he has got what he wanted?"

"I suppose he is pleased, for he is terribly frightened.  Fright is one
of the great enjoyments of a Parisian.  Good day.  Your path to your
hotel is clear now.  Remember me kindly to Alain."

De Mauleon continued his way through streets sometimes deserted,
sometimes thronged.  At the commencement of the Rue de Florentin he
encountered the brothers Vandemar walking arm in arm.

"Ha, De Mauleon!" cried Enguerrand; "what is the last minute's news?"

"I can't guess.  Nobody knows at Paris how soon one folly swallows up
another.  Saturn here is always devouring one or other of his children."

"They say that Vinoy, after a most masterly retreat, is almost at our
gates with 80,000 men."

"And this day twelvemonth we may know what he does with them."

Here Raoul, who seemed absorbed in gloomy reflections, halted before the
hotel in which the Contessa di Rimini lodged, and with a nod to his
brother, and a polite, if not cordial salutation to Victor, entered the
_porte cochere_.

"Your brother seems out of spirits,--a pleasing contrast to the
uproarious mirth with which Parisians welcome the advance of calamity."

"Raoul, as you know, is deeply religious.  He regards the defeat we have
sustained, and the peril that threatens us, as the beginning of a divine
chastisement, justly incurred by our sins--I mean, the sins of Paris.  In
vain my father reminds him of Voltaire's story, in which the ship goes
down with a _fripon_ on board.  In order to punish the _fripon_, the
honest folks are drowned."

"Is your father going to remain on board the ship, and share the fate of
the other honest folks?"

"_Pas si bete_.  He is off to Dieppe for sea-bathing.  He says that Paris
has grown so dirty since the 4th September, that it is only fit for the
feet of the Unwashed.  He wished my mother to accompany him; but she
replies, 'No; there are already too many wounded not to need plenty of
nurses.'  She is assisting to inaugurate a society of ladies in aid of
the _Soeurs de Charite_.  Like Raoul, she is devout, but she has not his
superstitions.  Still his superstitions are the natural reaction of a
singularly earnest and pure nature from the frivolity and corruption
which, when kneaded well up together with a slice of sarcasm, Paris calls
philosophy."

"And what, my dear Enguerrand, do you propose to do?"

"That depends on whether we are really besieged.  If so, of course I
become a soldier."

"I hope not a National Guard?"

"I care not in what name I fight, so that I fight for France."


As Enguerrand said these simple words, his whole countenance, seemed
changed.  The crest rose; his eyes sparkled; the fair and delicate beauty
which had made him the darling of women--the joyous sweetness of
expression and dainty grace of high breeding which made him the most
popular companion to men,--were exalted in a masculine nobleness of
aspect, from which a painter might have taken hints for a study of the
young Achilles separated for ever from effeminate companionship at the
sight of the weapons of war.  De Mauleon gazed on him admiringly.  We
have seen that he shared the sentiments uttered--had resolved on the same
course of action.  But it was with the tempered warmth of a man who seeks
to divest his thoughts and his purpose of the ardour of romance, and who,
in serving his country, calculates on the gains to his own ambition.
Nevertheless he admired in Enguerrand the image of his own impulsive and
fiery youth.

"And you, I presume," resumed Enguerrand, "will fight too, but rather
with pen than with sword."

"Pens will now only be dipped in red ink, and commonsense never writes in
that colour; as for the sword, I have passed the age of forty-five, at
which military service halts.  But if some experience in active service,
some knowledge of the art by which soldiers are disciplined and led, will
be deemed sufficient title to a post of command, however modest the grade
be, I shall not be wanting among the defenders of Paris."

"My brave dear Vicomte, if you are past the age to serve, you are in the
ripest age to command; and with the testimonials and the cross you won in
Algeria, your application for employment will be received with gratitude
by any general so able as Trochu."

"I don't know whether I shall apply to Trochu.  I would rather be elected
to command even by the Mobiles or the National Guard, of whom I have just
spoken disparagingly; and no doubt both corps will soon claim and win the
right to choose their officers.  But if elected, no matter by whom, I
shall make a preliminary condition; the men under me shall train, and
drill, and obey,--soldiers of a very different kind from the youthful
Pekins nourished on absinthe and self-conceit, and applauding that
Bombastes Furioso, M. Hugo, when he assures the enemy that Paris will
draw an idea from its scabbard.  But here comes Savarin. _Bon jour_, my
dear poet."

"Don't say good day.  An evil day for journalists and writers who do not
out-Herod Blanqui and Pyat.  I know not how I shall get bread and cheese.
My poor suburban villa is to be pulled down by way of securing Paris; my
journal will be suppressed by way of establishing the liberty of the
press.  I ventured to suggest that the people of France should have some
choice in the form of their government."

"That was very indiscreet, my poor Savarin," said Victor; "I wonder your
printing-office has not been pulled down.  We are now at the moment when
wise men hold their tongues."

"Perhaps so, M. de Mauleon.  It might have been wiser for all of us, you
as well as myself, if we had not allowed our tongues to be so free before
this moment arrived.  We live to learn; and if we ever have what may be
called a passable government again, in which we may say pretty much what
we like, there is one thing I will not do, I will not undermine that
government without seeing a very clear way to the government that is to
follow it.  What say you, Pierre Firmin?"

"Frankly, I say that I deserve your rebuke," answered De Mauleon
thoughtfully.  "But, of course, you are going to take or send Madame
Savarin out of Paris."

"Certainly.  We have made a very pleasant party for our hegira this
evening-among others the Morleys.  Morley is terribly disgusted.  A Red
Republican slapped him on the shoulder and said, 'American, we have a
republic as well as you.'  'Pretty much you know about republics,'
growled Morley; 'a French republic is as much like ours as a baboon is
like a man.'  On which the Red roused the mob, who dragged the American
off to the nearest station of the National Guard, where he was accused of
being a Prussian spy.  With some difficulty, and lots of brag about the
sanctity of the stars and stripes, he escaped with a reprimand, and
caution how to behave himself in future.  So he quits a city in which
there no longer exists freedom of speech.  My wife hoped to induce
Mademoiselle Cicogna to accompany us; I grieve to say she refuses.  You
know she is engaged in marriage to Gustave Rameau; and his mother dreads
the effect that these Red Clubs and his own vanity may have upon his
excitable temperament if the influence of Mademoiselle Cicogna be
withdrawn."

"How could a creature so exquisite as Isaura Cicogna ever find
fascination in Gustave Rameau!" exclaimed Enguerrand.

"A woman like her," answered De Mauleon, "always finds a fascination in
self-sacrifice."

"I think you divine the truth," said Savarin, rather mournfully.  "But I
must bid you good-bye.  May we live to shake hands _reunis sons des
meilleurs auspices_."

Here Savarin hurried off, and the other two men strolled into the Champs
Elysees, which were crowded with loungers, gay and careless, as if there
had been no disaster at Sedan, no overthrow of an Empire, no enemy on its
road to Paris.

In fact the Parisians, at once the most incredulous and the most
credulous of all populations, believed that the Prussians would never be
so impertinent as to come in sight of the gates.  Something would occur
to stop them!  The king had declared he did not war on Frenchmen, but on
the Emperor: the Emperor gone, the war was over.  A democratic republic
was instituted.  A horrible thing in its way, it is true; but how could
the Pandour tyrant brave the infection of democratic doctrines among his
own barbarian armies?  Were not placards, addressed to our "German
brethren," posted upon the walls of Paris, exhorting the Pandours to
fraternise with their fellow-creatures?  Was not Victor Hugo going to
publish "a letter to the German people"?  Had not Jules Favre graciously
offered peace, with the assurance that "France would not cede a stone of
her fortresses--an inch of her territory?  She would pardon the invaders
and not march upon Berlin!"  To all these, and many more such
incontestable proofs, that the idea of a siege was moonshine, did
Enguerrand and Victor listen as they joined group after group of their
fellow-countrymen: nor did Paris cease to harbour such pleasing
illusions, amusing itself with piously laying crowns at the foot of the
statue of Strasbourg, swearing "they would be worthy of their Alsatian
brethren," till on the 19th of September the last telegram was received,
and Paris was cut of from the rest of the world by the iron line of the
Prussian invaders.  "Tranquil and terrible," says Victor Hugo, "she
awaits the invasion!  A volcano needs no assistance."



CHAPTER XII.

We left Graham Vane slowly recovering from the attack of fever which had
arrested his journey to Berlin in quest of the Count von Rudesheimn.  He
was, however, saved the prosecution of that journey, and his direction
turned back to France by a German newspaper which informed him that the
King of Prussia was at Rheims, and that the Count von Rudesheim was among
the eminent personages gathered there around their sovereign.  In
conversing the same day with the kindly doctor who attended him, Graham
ascertained that this German noble held a high command in the German
armies, and bore a no less distinguished reputation as a wise political
counsellor than he had earned as a military chief.  As soon as he was
able to travel, and indeed before the good doctor sanctioned his
departure, Graham took his way to Rheims, uncertain, however, whether the
Count would still be found there.  I spare the details of his journey,
interesting as they were.  On reaching the famous and, in the eyes of
Legitimists, the sacred city, the Englishman had no difficulty in
ascertaining the house, not far from the cathedral, in which the Count
von Rudesheim had taken his temporary abode.  Walking towards it from the
small hotel in which he had been lucky enough to find a room disengaged--
slowly, for he was still feeble--he was struck by the quiet conduct of
the German soldiery, and, save in their appearance, the peaceful aspect
of the streets.  Indeed, there was an air of festive gaiety about the
place, as in an English town in which some popular regiment is quartered.
The German soldiers thronged the shops, buying largely; lounged into the
cafes; here and there attempted flirtations with the _grisettes_, who
laughed at their French and blushed at their compliments; and in their
good-humoured, somewhat bashful cheeriness, there was no trace of the
insolence of conquest.

But as Graham neared the precincts of the cathedral his ear caught a
grave and solemn music, which he at first supposed to come from within
the building.  But as he paused and looked round, he saw a group of the
German military, on whose stalwart forms and fair manly earnest faces the
setting sun cast its calm lingering rays.  They were chanting, in voices
not loud but deep, Luther's majestic hymn:

"Nun danket alle Gott."  The chant awed even the ragged beggar boys who
had followed the Englishman, as they followed any stranger, would have
followed King William himself, whining for alms.  "What a type of the
difference between the two nations!" thought Graham; "the Marseillaise,
and Luther's Hymn!"  While thus meditating and listening, a man in a
general's uniform came slowly out of the cathedral, with his hands
clasped behind his back, and his head bent slightly downwards.  He, too,
paused on hearing the hymn; then unclasped his hand and beckoned to one
of the officers, to whom approaching he whispered a word or two, and
passed on towards the Episcopal palace.  The hymn hushed, and the singers
quietly dispersed.  Graham divined rightly that the general had thought a
hymn thanking the God of battles might wound the feelings of the
inhabitants of the vanquished city--not, however, that any of them were
likely to understand the language in which the thanks were uttered.
Graham followed the measured steps of the general, whose hands were again
clasped behind his back--the musing habit of Von Moltke, as it had been
of Napoleon the First.  Continuing his way, the Englishman soon reached
the house in which the Count von Rudesheim was lodged, and, sending in
his card, was admitted at once through an anteroom in which sate two
young men, subaltern officers apparently employed in draughting maps,
into the presence of the Count.

"Pardon me," said Graham, after the first conventional salutation, "if I
interrupt you for a moment or so in the midst of events so grave, on a
matter that must seem to you very trivial."

"Nay," answered the Count, "there is nothing so trivial in this world but
what there will be some one to whom it is important.  Say how I can serve
you."

"I think, M. le Comte, that you once received in your household, as
teacher or governess, a French lady, Madame Marigny."

"Yes, I remember her well--a very handsome woman.  My wife and daughter
took great interest in her.  She was married out of my house."

"Exactly--and to whom?"

"An Italian of good birth, who was then employed by the Austrian
Government in some minor post, and subsequently promoted to a better one
in the Italian dominion, which then belonged to the house of Hapsburg,
after which we lost sight of him and his wife."

"An Italian--what was his name?"

"Ludovico Cicogna."

"Cicogna!" exclaimed Graham, turning very pale.  "Are you sure that was
the name?"

"Certainly.  He was a cadet of a very noble house, and disowned by
relations too patriotic to forgive him for accepting employment under the
Austrian Government."

"Can you not give me the address of the place in Italy to which he was
transferred on leaving Austria?"

"No; but if the information be necessary to you, it can be obtained
easily at Milan, where the head of the family resides, or indeed in
Vienna, through any ministerial bureau."

"Pardon me one or two questions more.  Had Madame Marigny any children by
a former husband?"

"Not that I know of: I never heard so.  Signor Cicogna was a widower, and
had, if I remember right, children by his first wife, who was also a
Frenchwoman.  Before he obtained office in Austria, he resided, I
believe, in France.  I do not remember how many children he had by his
first wife.  I never saw them.  Our acquaintance began at the baths of
Toplitz, where he saw and fell violently in love with Madame Marigny.
After their marriage, they went to his post, which was somewhere, I
think, in the Tyrol.  We saw no more of them; but my wife and daughter
kept up a correspondence with the Signora Cicogna for a short time.  It
ceased altogether when she removed into Italy."

"You do not even know if the Signora is still living?"

"No."

"Her husband, I am told, is dead."

"Indeed!  I am concerned to hear it.  A good-looking, lively, clever man.
I fear he must have lost all income when the Austrian dominions passed to
the house of Savoy."

"Many thanks for your information.  I can detain you no longer," said
Graham, rising.

"Nay, I am not very busy at this moment; but I fear we Germans have
plenty of work on our hands."

"I had hoped that, now the French Emperor, against whom your king made
war, was set aside, his Prussian majesty would make peace with the French
people."

"Most willingly would he do so if the French people would let him.  But
it must be through a French Government legally chosen by the people.  And
they have chosen none!  A mob at Paris sets up a provisional
administration, that commences by declaring that it will not give up 'an
inch of its territory nor a stone of its fortresses.'  No terms of peace
can be made with such men holding such talk."  After a few words more
over the state of public affairs,--in which Graham expressed the English
side of affairs, which was all for generosity to the vanquished; and the
Count argued much more ably on the German, which was all for security
against the aggressions of a people that would not admit itself to be
vanquished,--the short interview closed.

As Graham at night pursued his journey to Vienna, there came into his
mind Isaura's song of the Neapolitan fisherman.  Had he, too, been blind
to the image on the rock?  Was it possible that all the while he had been
resisting the impulse of his heart, until the discharge of the mission
entrusted to him freed his choice and decided his fortunes, the very
person of whom he was in search had been before him, then to be for ever
won, lost to him now for ever?  Could Isaura Cicogna be the child of
Louise Duval by Richard King?  She could not have been her child by
Cicogna: the dates forbade that hypothesis.  Isaura must have been five
years old when Louise married the Italian.  Arrived at Milan, Graham
quickly ascertained that the post to which Ludovico Cicogna had been
removed was in Verona, and that he had there died eight years ago.
Nothing was to be learned as to his family or his circumstances at the
time of his death.  The people of whose history we know the least are the
relations we refuse to acknowledge.  Graham continued his journey to
Verona.  There he found on inquiry that the Cicognas had occupied an
apartment in a house which stood at the outskirts of the town and had
been since pulled down to make way for some public improvements.  But his
closest inquiries could gain him no satisfactory answers to the all-
important questions as to Ludovico Cicogna's family.  His political
alienation from the Italian cause, which was nowhere more ardently
espoused than at Verona, had rendered him very unpopular.  He visited at
no Italian houses.  Such society as he had was confined to the Austrian
military within the Quadrilateral or at Venice, to which city he made
frequent excursions: was said to lead there a free and gay life, very
displeasing to the Signora, whom he left in Verona.  She was but little
seen, and faintly remembered as very handsome and proud-looking.  Yes,
there were children--a girl, and a boy several years younger than the
girl; but whether she was the child of the Signora by a former marriage,
or whether the Signora was only the child's stepmother, no one could say.
The usual clue, in such doubtful matters obtainable through servants, was
here missing.  The Cicognas had only kept two servants, and both were
Austrian subjects, who had long left the country,--their very names
forgotten.

Graham now called to mind the Englishman Selby, for whom Isaura had such
grateful affection, as supplying to her the place of her father.  This
must have been the Englishman whom Louise Duval had married after
Cicogna's death.  It would be no difficult task, surely, to ascertain
where he had resided.  Easy enough to ascertain all that Graham wanted to
know from Isaura herself, if a letter could reach her.  But, as he knew
by the journals, Paris was now invested--cut off from all communication
with the world beyond.  Too irritable, anxious, and impatient to wait for
the close of the siege, though he never suspected it could last so long
as it did, he hastened to Venice, and there learned through the British
consul that the late Mr. Selby was a learned antiquarian, an accomplished
general scholar, a _fanatico_ in music, a man of gentle temper though
reserved manners; had at one time lived much at Venice: after his
marriage with the Signora Cicogna he had taken up his abode near
Florence.  To Florence Graham now went.  He found the villa on the skirts
of Fiesole at which Mr. Selby had resided.  The peasant who had
officiated as gardener and shareholder in the profits of vines and figs,
was still, with his wife, living on the place.  Both man and wife
remembered the Inglese well; spoke of him with great affection, of his
wife with great dislike.  They said her manners were very haughty, her
temper very violent; that she led the Inglese a very unhappy life; that
there were a girl and a boy, both hers by a former marriage; but when
closely questioned whether they were sure that the girl was the Signora's
child by the former husband, or whether she was not the child of that
husband by a former wife, they could not tell; they could only say that
both were called by the same name--Cicogna; that the boy was the
Signora's favourite--that indeed she seemed wrapt up in him; that he died
of a rapid decline a few months after Mr. Selby had hired the place, and
that shortly after his death the Signora left the place and never
returned to it; that it was little more than a year that she had lived
with her husband before this final separation took place.  The girl
remained with Mr. Selby, who cherished and loved her as his own child.
Her Christian name was Isaura, the boy's Luigi.  A few years later, Mr.
Selby left the villa and went to Naples, where they heard he had died.
They could give no information as to what had become of his wife:  Since
the death of her boy that lady had become very much changed--her spirits
quite broken, no longer violent.  She would sit alone and weep bitterly.
The only person out of her family she would receive was the priest; till
the boy's death she had never seen the priest, nor been known to attend
divine service.

"Was the priest living?"

"Oh, no; he had been dead two years.  A most excellent man--a saint,"
said the peasant's wife.

"Good priests are like good women," said the peasant, drily; "there are
plenty of them, but they are all underground."

On which remark the wife tried to box his ears.  The contadino had become
a freethinker since the accession of the house of Savoy.  His wife
remained a good Catholic.  Said the peasant as, escaping from his wife,
he walked into the high-road with Graham, "My belief, Eccellenza, is,
that the priest did all the mischief."

"What mischief?"

"Persuaded the Signora to leave her husband.  The Inglese was not a
Catholic.  I heard the priest call him a heretic.  And the padre, who,
though not so bad as some of his cloth, was a meddling bigot, thought it
perhaps best for her soul that it should part company with a heretic's
person.  I can't say for sure, but I think that was it.  The padre seemed
to triumph when the Signora was gone."  Graham mused.  The peasant's
supposition was not improbable.  A woman such as Louise Duval appeared to
be--of vehement passions and ill-regulated mind--was just one of those
who, in a moment of great sorrow, and estranged from the ordinary
household affections, feel, though but imperfectly, the necessity of a
religion, and, ever in extremes, pass at once from indifferentism into
superstition.

Arrived at Naples, Graham heard little of Selby except as a literary
recluse, whose only distraction from books was the operatic stage.  But
he heard much of Isaura; of the kindness which Madame de Grantmesnil had
shown to her, when left by Selby's death alone in the world; of the
interest which the friendship and the warm eulogies of one so eminent as
the great French writer had created for Isaura in the artistic circles;
of the intense sensation her appearance, her voice, her universal genius,
had made in that society, and the brilliant hopes of her subsequent
career on the stage the cognoscenti had formed.  No one knew anything of
her mother; no one entertained a doubt that Isaura was by birth a
Cicogna.  Graham could not learn the present whereabouts of Madame de
Grantmesnil.  She had long left Naples, and had been last heard of at
Genoa; was supposed to have returned to France a little before the war.
In France she had no fixed residence.

The simplest mode of obtaining authentic information whether Isaura was
the daughter of Ludovico Cicogna by his first wife--namely, by
registration of her birth--failed him; because, as von Rudesheim had
said, his first wife was a Frenchwoman.  The children had been born
somewhere in France, no one could even guess where.  No one had ever seen
the first wife, who had never appeared in Italy, nor had even heard what
was her maiden name.

Graham, meanwhile, was not aware that Isaura was still in the besieged
city, whether or not already married to Gustave Rameau; so large a number
of the women had quitted Paris before the siege began, that he had reason
to hope she was among them.  He heard through an American that the
Morleys had gone to England before the Prussian investment; perhaps
Isaura had gone with them.  He wrote to Mrs. Morley, inclosing his letter
to the Minister of the United States at the Court of St. James's, and
while still at Naples received her answer.  It was short, and malignantly
bitter.  "Both myself and Madame Savarin, backed by Signora Venosta,
earnestly entreated Mademoiselle Cicogna to quit Paris, to accompany us
to England.  Her devotion to her affianced husband would not permit her
to listen to us.  It is only an Englishman who could suppose Isaura
Cicogna to be one of those women who do not insist on sharing the perils
of those they love.  You ask whether she was the daughter of Ludovico
Cicogna by his former marriage, or of his second wife by him.  I cannot
answer.  I don't even know whether Signor Cicogna ever had a former wife.
Isaura Cicogna never spoke to me of her parents.  Permit me to ask--what
business is it of yours now?  Is it the English pride that makes you wish
to learn whether on both sides she is of noble family?  How can that
discovery alter your relations towards the affianced bride of another?"

On receipt of this letter, Graham quitted Naples, and shortly afterwards
found himself at Versailles.  He obtained permission to establish himself
there, though the English were by no means popular.  Thus near to Isaura,
thus sternly separated from her, Graham awaited the close of the siege.
Few among those at Versailles believed that the Parisians would endure it
much longer.  Surely they would capitulate before the bombardment, which
the Germans themselves disliked to contemplate as a last resource, could
commence.

In his own mind Graham was convinced that Isaura was the child of Richard
King.  It seemed to him probable that Louise Duval, unable to assign any
real name to the daughter of the marriage she disowned,--neither the name
borne by the repudiated husband, nor her own maiden name,--would, on
taking her daughter to her new home, have induced Cicogna to give the
child his name, or that after Cicogna's death she herself had so
designated the girl.  A dispassionate confidant, could Graham have
admitted any confidant whatever, might have suggested the more than equal
probability that Isaura was Cicogna's daughter by his former espousal.
But then what could have become of Richard King's child?  To part with
the fortune in his hands, to relinquish all the ambitious dreams which
belonged to it, cost Graham Vane no pang: but he writhed with indignant
grief when he thought that the wealth of Richard King's heiress was to
pass to the hands of Gustave Rameau,--that this was to be the end of his
researches--this the result of the sacrifice his sense of honour imposed
on him.  And now that there was the probability that he must convey to
Isaura this large inheritance, the practical difficulty of inventing some
reason for such a donation, which he had, while at a distance made light
of, became seriously apparent.  How could he say to Isaura that he had
L200,000. in trust for her, without naming any one so devising it?  Still
more, how constitute himself her guardian, so as to secure it to herself,
independently of her husband?  Perhaps Isaura was too infatuated with
Rameau, or too romantically unselfish, to permit the fortune so
mysteriously conveyed being exclusively appropriated to herself.  And if
she were already married to Rameau, and if he were armed with the right
to inquire into the source of this fortune, how exposed to the risks of
disclosure would become the secret Graham sought to conceal.  Such a
secret affecting the memory of the sacred dead, affixing a shame on the
scutcheon of the living, in the irreverent hands of a Gustave Rameau,--
it was too dreadful to contemplate such a hazard.  And yet, if Isaura
were the missing heiress, could Graham Vane admit any excuse for basely
withholding from her, for coolly retaining to himself the wealth for
which he was responsible?  Yet, torturing as were these communings with
himself, they were mild in their torture compared to the ever-growing
anguish of the thought that in any case the only woman he had ever loved
--ever could love,--who might but for his own scruples and prejudices
have been the partner of his life, was perhaps now actually the wife of
another, and, as such, in what terrible danger!  Famine within the walls
of the doomed city: without, the engines of death waiting for a signal.
So near to her, and yet so far!  So willing to die for her, if for her he
could not live: and with all his devotion, all his intellect, all his
wealth, so powerless!



CHAPTER XIII.

It is now the middle of November-a Sunday.  The day has been mild, and is
drawing towards its close.  The Parisians have been enjoying the
sunshine.  Under the leafless trees in the public gardens and the Champs
Elysees children have been at play.  On the Boulevards the old elegance
of gaiety is succeeded by a livelier animation.  Itinerant musicians
gather round them ragged groups.  Fortune-tellers are in great request,
especially among the once brilliant Laises and Thaises, now looking more
shabby, to whom they predict the speedy restoration of Nabobs and
Russians, and golden joys.  Yonder Punch is achieving a victory over the
Evil One, who wears the Prussian spiked helmet, and whose face has been
recently beautified into a resemblance to Bismarck.  Punch draws to his
show a laughing audience of _Moblots_ and recruits to the new companies
of the National Guard.  Members of the once formidable police, now
threadbare and hunger-pinched, stand side by side with unfortunate
beggars and sinister-looking patriots who have served their time in the
jails or galleys.

Uniforms of all variety are conspicuous--the only evidence visible of an
enemy at the walls.  But the aspects of the wearers of warlike
accoutrements are debonnaire and smiling, as of revellers on a holiday of
peace.  Among these defenders of their country, at the door of a crowded
_cafe_, stands Frederic Lemercier, superb in the costume, bran-new, of a
National Guard,--his dog Fox tranquilly reposing on its haunches, with
eyes fixed upon its fellow-dog philosophically musing on the edge of
Punch's show, whose master is engaged in the conquest of the Bismarck
fiend.

"Lemercier," cried the Vicomte de Breze, approaching the _cafe_, "I
scarcely recognise you in that martial guise.  You look _magnifique_--
the _galons_ become you. _Peste_! an officer already?"

"The National Guards and Mobiles are permitted to choose their own
officers, as you are aware.  I have been elected, but to subaltern grade,
by the warlike patriots of my department.  Enguerrand de Vandemar is
elected a captain of the Mobiles in his, and Victor de Mauleon is
appointed to the command of a battalion of the National Guards.  But I
soar above jealousy at such a moment,--

               "'Rome a choisi mon bras; je n'examine rien.'"

"You have no right to be jealous.  De Mauldon has had experience and won
distinction in actual service, and from all I hear is doing wonders with
his men--has got them not only to keep but to love drill.  I heard no
less an authority than General V---- say that if all the officers of the
National Guard were like De Mauleon, that body would give an example of
discipline to the line."

"I say nothing as to the promotion of a real soldier like the Vicomte--
but a Parisian dandy like Euguerrand de Vande--"

"You forget that Enguerrand received a military education--an advantage
denied to you."

"What does that matter?  Who cares for education nowadays?  Besides, have
I not been training ever since the 4th of September, to say nothing of
the hard work on the ramparts?"

"_Parlez moi de cela_ it is indeed hard work on the ramparts. _Infandum
dolorem quorum pars magna fui_.  Take the day duty.  What with rising at
seven o'clock, and being drilled between a middle-aged and corpulent
grocer on one side and a meagre beardless barber's apprentice on the
other; what with going to the bastions at eleven, and seeing half one's
companions drunk before twelve; what with trying to keep their fists off
one's face when one politely asks them not to call one's general a
traitor or a poltroon,--the work of the ramparts would be insupportable,
if I did not take a pack of cards with me, and enjoy a quiet rubber with
three other heroes in some sequestered corner.  As for night work,
nothing short of the indomitable fortitude of a Parisian could sustain
it; the tents made expressly not to be waterproof, like the groves of the
Muses,

                                           "' per
                    Quos et aquea subeant et aurae.'

A fellow-companion of mine tucks himself up on my rug, and pillows his
head on my knapsack.  I remonstrate--he swears--the other heroes wake up
and threaten to thrash us both; and just when peace is made, and one
hopes for a wink of sleep, a detachment of spectators, chiefly gamins,
coming to see that all is safe in the camp, strike up the Marseillaise.
Ah, the world will ring to the end of time with the sublime attitude of
Paris in the face of the Vandal invaders, especially when it learns that
the very shoes we stand in are made of cardboard.  In vain we complain.
The contractor for shoes is a staunch Republican, and jobs by right
divine.  May I ask if you have dined yet?"

"Heavens! no, it is too early.  But I am excessively hungry.  I had only
a quarter of jugged cat for breakfast, and the brute was tough.  In reply
to your question, may I put another--Did you lay in plenty of stores?"

"Stores? no; I am a bachelor, and rely on the stores of my married
friends."

"Poor De Breze!  I sympathise with you, for I am in the same boat, and
dinner invitations have become monstrous rare."

"Oh, but you are so confoundedly rich!  What to you are forty francs for
a rabbit, or eighty francs for a turkey?"

"Well, I suppose I am rich, but I have no money, and the ungrateful
restautrants will not give me credit.  They don't believe in better
days."

"How can you want money?"

"Very naturally.  I had invested my capital famously-the best
speculations--partly in house rents, partly in company shares; and houses
pay no rents, and nobody will buy company shares.  I had 1,000 napoleons
on hand, it is true, when Duplessis left Paris--much more, I thought,
than I could possibly need, for I never believed in the siege.  But
during the first few weeks I played at whist with bad luck, and since
then so many old friends have borrowed of me that I doubt if I have 200
francs left.  I have despatched four letters to Duplessis by pigeon and
balloon, entreating him to send me 25,000 francs by some trusty fellow
who will pierce the Prussian lines.  I have had two answers: 1st, that he
will find a man; 2nd, that the man is found and on his way.  Trust to
that man, my dear friend, and meanwhile lend me 200 francs."

"_Mon cher, desole_ to refuse; but I was about to ask you to share your
200 francs with me who live chiefly by my pen; and that resource is cut
off.  Still, _il faut vivre_--one must dine."

"That is a fact, and we will dine together to-day at my expense; limited
liability, though--eight francs a head."

"Generous Monsieur, I accept.  Meanwhile let us take a turn towards the
Madeleine."

The two Parisians quit the cafe, and proceed up the Boulevard.  On their
way they encounter Savarin.  "Why," said De Breze, "I thought you had
left Paris with Madame."

"So I did, and deposited her safely with the Morleys at Boulogne.  These
kind Americans were going to England, and they took her with them.  But I
quit Paris!  No: I am old; I am growing obese.  I have always been
short-sighted.  I can neither wield a sword nor handle a musket.  But
Paris needs defenders; and every moment I was away from her I sighed to
myself, '_ il faut etre la_!'  I returned before the Vandals had
possessed themselves of our railways, the _convoi_ overcrowded with men
like myself, who had removed wives and families; and when we asked each
other why we went back, every answer was the same, '_il faut etre la_.'
No, poor child, no--I have nothing to give you."

These last words were addressed to a woman young and handsome, with a
dress that a few weeks ago might have been admired for taste and elegance
by the lady leaders of the ton, but was now darned, and dirty, and
draggled.

"Monsieur, I did not stop you to ask for alms.  You do not seem to
remember me, M. Savarin."

"But I do," said Lemercier, "surely I address Mademoiselle Julie
Caumartin."

"Ah, excuse me, _le petit_ Frederic," said Julie with a sickly attempt at
coquettish sprightliness; "I had no eyes except for M. Savarin."

"And why only for me, my poor child?" asked the kindhearted author.

"Hush!"  She drew him aside.  "Because you can give me news of that
monster Gustave.  It is not true, it cannot be true, that he is going to
be married?"

"Nay, surely, Mademoiselle, all connection between you and young Rameau
has ceased for months--ceased from the date of that illness in July which
nearly carried him off."

"I resigned him to the care of his mother," said the girl; "but when he
no longer needs a mother, he belongs to me.  Oh, consider, M. Savarin,
for his sake I refused the most splendid offers!  When he sought me, I
had my _coupe_, my opera-box, my _cachemires_, my jewels.  The Russians--
the English--vied for my smiles.  But I loved the man.  I never loved
before: I shall never love again; and after the sacrifices I have made
for him, nothing shall induce me to give him up.  Tell me, I entreat, my
dear M. Savarin, where he is hiding.  He has left the parental roof, and
they refused there to give me his address."

"My poor girl, don't be _mechante_.  It is quite true that Gustave Rameau
is engaged to be married; and any attempt of yours to create scandal--"

"Monsieur," interrupted Julie, vehemently, "don't talk to me about
scandal!  The man is mine, and no one else shall have him.  His address?"

"Mademoiselle," cried Savarin, angrily, "find it out for yourself."
Then--repentant of rudeness to one so young and so desolate--he added, in
mild expostulatory accents: "Come, come, _ma belle enfant_, be
reasonable: Gustave is no loss.  He is reduced to poverty."

"So much the better.  When he was well off I never cost him more than a
supper at the _Maison Doree_; and if he is poor he shall marry me, and I
will support him!"

"You!--and how?"

"By my profession when peace comes; and meanwhile I have offers from a
_cafe_ to recite warlike songs.  Ah!  you shake your head incredulously.
The ballet-dancer recite verses?  Yes!  he taught me to recite his own
_Soyez bon pour moi_.  M. Savarin! do say where I can find _mon homme_."

"No."

"That is your last word?"

"It is."

The girl drew her thin shawl round her and hurried off.  Savarin rejoined
his friends.  "Is that the way you console yourself for the absence of
Madame?" asked De Breze, drily.

"Fie!" cried Savarin, indignantly; "such bad jokes are ill-timed.  What
strange mixtures of good and bad, of noble and base, every stratum of
Paris life contains!  There is that poor girl, in one way contemptible,
no doubt, and yet in another way she has an element of grandeur.  On the
whole, at Paris, the women, with all their faults, are of finer mould
than the men."

"French gallantry has always admitted that truth," said Lemercier.  "Fox,
Fox, Fox."  Uttering this cry, he darted forward after the dog, who had
strayed a few yards to salute another dog led by a string, and caught the
animal in his arms.  "Pardon me," he exclaimed, returning to his friends,
"but there are so many snares for dogs at present.  They are just coming
into fashion for roasts, and Fox is so plump."

"I thought," said Savarin, "that it was resolved at all the sporting
clubs that, be the pinch of famine ever so keen, the friend of man should
not be eaten."

"That was while the beef lasted; but since we have come to cats, who
shall predict immunity to dogs?  _Quid intactum nefasti linquimus_?
Nothing is sacred from the hand of rapine."

The church of the Madeleine now stood before them. _Moblots_ were playing
pitch-and-toss on its steps.

"I don't wish you to accompany me, Messieurs," said Lemercier,
apologetically, "but I am going to enter the church."

"To pray?" asked De Breze, in profound astonishment.  "Not exactly; but I
want to speak to my friend Rochebriant, and I know I shall find him
there."

"Praying?" again asked De Breze.

"Yes."

"That is curious--a young Parisian exquisite at prayer--that is worth
seeing.  Let us enter, too, Savarin."

They enter the church.  It is filled, and even the sceptical De Breze is
impressed and awed by the sight.  An intense fervour pervades the
congregation.  The majority, it is true, are women, many of them in deep
mourning, and many of their faces mourning deeper than the dress.
Everywhere may be seen gushing tears, and everywhere faintly heard the
sound of stifled sighs.  Besides the women are men of all ages--young,
middle-aged, old, with heads bowed and hands clasped, pale, grave, and
earnest.  Most of them were evidently of the superior grade of life--
nobles, and the higher bourgeoisie: few of the _ouvrier_ class, very few,
and these were of an earlier generation.  I except soldiers, of whom
there were many, from the provincial Mobiles, chiefly Bretons; you know
the Breton soldiers by the little cross worn on their kepis.

Among them Lemercier at once distinguished the noble countenance of Alain
de Rochebriant.  De Breze and Savarin looked at each other with solemn
eyes.  I know not when either had last been within a church; perhaps both
were startled to find that religion still existed in Paris--and largely
exist it does, though little seen on the surface of society, little to be
estimated by the articles of journals and the reports of foreigners.
Unhappily, those among whom it exists are not the ruling class--are of
the classes that are dominated over and obscured in every country the
moment the populace becomes master.  And at that moment the journals
chiefly read were warring more against the Deity than the Prussians--were
denouncing soldiers who attended mass.  "The Gospel certainly makes a bad
soldier," writes the patriot Pyat.

Lemercier knelt down quietly.  The other two men crept noiselessly out,
and stood waiting for him on the steps, watching the _Moblots_ (Parisian
_Moblots_) at play.

"I should not wait for the _roturier_ if he had not promised me a
_roti_," said the Vicomte de Breze, with a pitiful attempt at the
patrician wit of the ancien regime.

Savarin shrugged his shoulders.  "I am not included in the invitation,"
said he, "and therefore free to depart.  I must go and look up a former
_confrere_ who was an enthusiastic Red Republican, and I fear does not
get so much to eat since he has no longer an Emperor to abuse."

So Savarin went away.  A few minutes afterwards Lemercier emerged from
the church with Alain.



CHAPTER XIV.

"I knew I should find you in the Madeleine," said Lemercier, "and I
wished much to know when you had news from Duplessis.  He and your fair
fiancee are with your aunt still staying at Rochebriant?"

"Certainly.  A pigeon arrived this morning with a few lines.  All well
there."

"And Duplessis thinks, despite the war, that he shall be able, when the
time comes, to pay Louvier the mortgage-sum?"

"He never doubts that.  His credit in London is so good.  But of course
all works of improvement are stopped."

"Pray did he mention me?--anything about the messenger who was to pierce
the Prussian lines?"

"What! has the man not arrived?  It is two weeks since he left."

"The Uhlans have no doubt shot him--the assassins, and drunk up my 25,000
francs--the thieves."

"I hope not.  But in case of delay, Duplessis tells me I am to remit to
you 2,000 francs for your present wants.  I will send them to you this
evening."

"How the deuce do you possess such a sum?"

"I came from Brittany with a purse well filled.  Of course I could have
no scruples in accepting money from my destined father-in-law."

"And you can spare this sum?"

"Certainly--the State now provides for me; I am in command of a Breton
company."

"True.  Come and dine with me and De Breze."

"Alas!  I cannot.  I have to see both the Vandemars before I return to
the camp for the night.  And now-hush--come this way (drawing Frederic
further from De Breze), I have famous news for you.  A sortie on a grand
scale is imminent; in a few days we may hope for it."

"I have heard that so often that I am incredulous."

"Take it as a fact now."

"What!  Trochu has at last matured his plan?"

"He has changed its original design, which was to cut through the
Prussian lines to Rouen, occupying there the richest country for
supplies, guarding the left bank of the Seine and a watercourse to convoy
them to Paris.  The incidents of war prevented that: he has a better plan
now.  The victory of the army of the Loire at Orleans opens a new
enterprise.  We shall cut our way through the Prussians, join that army,
and with united forces fall on the enemy at the rear.  Keep this a secret
as yet, but rejoice with me that we shall prove to the invaders what men
who fight for their native soil can do under the protection of Heaven."

"Fox, Fox, _mon cheri_," said Lemercier, as he walked towards the _cafe
Riche_ with De Breze; "thou shalt have a _festin de Balthazar_ under the
protection of Heaven."



CHAPTER XV.

On leaving Lemercier and De Breze, Savarin regained the Boulevard, and
pausing every now and then to exchange a few words with acquaintances--
the acquaintances of the genial author were numerous--turned into the
_quartier_ Chaussee d'Antin, and gaining a small neat house, with a
richly-ornamented _facade_, mounted very clean, well-kept stairs to a
third story.  On one of the doors on the landing-place was nailed a card,
inscribed, "Gustave Rameau, _homme de lettres_."  Certainly it is not
usual in Paris thus to _afficher_ one's self as a "man of letters"?  But
Genius scorns what is usual.  Had not Victor Hugo left in the hotel-books
on the Rhine his designation "homme de lettres"?  Did not the heir to one
of the loftiest houses in the peerage of England, and who was also a
first-rate amateur in painting, inscribe on his studio when in Italy, "--
_artiste_"?  Such examples, no doubt, were familiar to Gustave Rameau,
and "_homme de lettres_" was on the scrap of pasteboard nailed to his
door.

Savarin rang; the door opened, and Gustave appeared.  The poet was, of
course, picturesquely attired.  In his day of fashion he had worn within
doors a very pretty fanciful costume, designed after portraits of the
young Raffaelle; that costume he had preserved--he wore it now.  It
looked very threadbare, and the _pourpoint_ very soiled.  But the beauty
of the poet's face had survived the lustre of the garments.  True, thanks
to absinthe, the cheeks had become somewhat puffy and bloated.  Grey was
distinctly visible in the long ebon tresses.  But still the beauty of the
face was of that rare type which a Thorwaldsen or a Gibson seeking a
model for a Narcissus would have longed to fix into marble.

Gustave received his former chief with a certain air of reserved dignity;
led him into his chamber, only divided by a curtain from his
accommodation for washing and slumber, and placed him in an arm-chair
beside a drowsy fire--fuel had already become very dear.

"Gustave," said Savarin, "are you in a mood favourable to a little
serious talk?"

"Serious talk from M. Savarin is a novelty too great not to command my
profoundest interest."

"Thank you,--and to begin: I who know the world and mankind advise you,
who do not, never to meet a man who wishes to do you a kindness with an
ungracious sarcasm.  Irony is a weapon I ought to be skilled in, but
weapons are used against enemies, and it is only a tyro who flourishes
his rapier in the face of his friends."

"I was not aware that M. Savarin still permitted me to regard him as a
friend."

"Because I discharged the duties of friend--remonstrated, advised, and
warned.  However, let bygones be bygones.  I entreated you not to quit
the safe shelter of the paternal roof.  You insisted on doing so.  I
entreated you not to send to one of the most ferocious of the Red, or
rather, the Communistic, journals, articles, very eloquent, no doubt, but
which would most seriously injure you in the eyes of quiet, orderly
people, and compromise your future literary career for the sake of a
temporary flash in the pan during a very evanescent period of
revolutionary excitement.  You scorned my adjurations, but at all events
you had the grace not to append your true name to those truculent
effusions.  In literature, if literature revive in France, we two are
henceforth separated.  But I do not forego the friendly interest I took
in you in the days when you were so continually in my house.  My wife,
who liked you so cordially, implored me to look after you during her
absence from Paris, and, _enfin, mon pauvre garcon_, it would grieve me
very much if, when she comes back, I had to say to her, 'Gustave Rameau
has thrown away the chance of redemption and of happiness which you
deemed was secure to him.' _A l'oeil malade, la lumiere nuit_."

So saying, he held out his hand kindly.

Gustave, who was far from deficient in affectionate or tender impulses,
took the hand respectfully, and pressed it warmly.

"Forgive me if I have been ungracious, M. Savarin, and vouchsafe to hear
my explanation."

"Willingly, _mon garcon_."

"When I became convalescent, well enough to leave my father's house,
there were circumstances which compelled me to do so.  A young man
accustomed to the life of a _garcon_ can't be always tied to his mother's
apron-strings."

"Especially if the apron-pocket does not contain a bottle of absinthe,"
said Savarin, drily.  "You may well colour and try to look angry; but I
know that the doctor strictly forbade the use of that deadly _liqueur_,
and enjoined your mother to keep strict watch on your liability to its
temptations.  And hence one cause of your ennui under the paternal roof.
But if there you could not imbibe absinthe, you were privileged to enjoy
a much diviner intoxication.  There you could have the foretaste of
domestic bliss,--the society of the girl you loved, and who was pledged
to become your wife.  Speak frankly.  Did not that society itself begin
to be wearisome?"

"No," cried Gustave, eagerly, "it was not wearisome--"

"Yes, but--"

"But it could not be all-sufficing to a soul of fire like mine."

"Hem," murmured Savarin--"a soul of fire!  This is very interesting; pray
go on."

"The calm, cold, sister-like affection of a childish undeveloped nature,
which knew no passion except for art, and was really so little
emancipated from the nursery as to take for serious truth all the old
myths of religion--such companionship may be very soothing and pleasant
when one is lying on one's sofa, and must live by rule, but when one
regains the vigour of youth and health--"

"Do not pause," said Savarin, gazing with more compassion than envy on
that melancholy impersonation of youth and health.  "When one regains
that vigour of which I myself have no recollection, what happens?"

"The thirst for excitement, the goads of ambition, the irresistible
claims which the world urges upon genius, return."

"And that genius, finding itself at the North Pole amid Cimmerian
darkness in the atmosphere of a childish intellect--in other words, the
society of a pure-minded virgin, who, though a good romance-writer,
writes nothing but what a virgin may read, and, though a _bel esprit_,
says her prayers and goes to church--then genius--well, pardon my
ignorance, what does genius do?"

"Oh, M. Savarin, M. Savarin! don't let us talk any more.  There is no
sympathy between us.  I cannot bear that bloodless, mocking, cynical mode
of dealing with grand emotions, which belongs to the generation of the
Doctrinaires.  I am not a Thiers or a Guizot."

"Good heavens! who ever accused you of being either?  I did not mean to
be cynical.  Mademoiselle Cicogna has often said I am, but I did not
think you would.  Pardon me.  I quite agree with the philosopher who
asserted that the wisdom of the past was an imposture, that the meanest
intellect now living is wiser than the greatest intellect which is buried
in Pere la Chaise; because the dwarf who follows the giant, when perched
on the shoulders of the giant, sees farther than the giant ever could.
_Allez_.  I go in for your generation.  I abandon Guizot and Thiers.  Do
condescend and explain to my dull understanding, as the inferior mortal
of a former age, what are the grand emotions which impel a soul of fire
in your wiser generation.  The thirst of excitement--what excitement?
The goads of ambition--what ambition?"

"A new social system is struggling from the dissolving elements of the
old one, as, in the fables of priestcraft, the soul frees itself from the
body which has become ripe for the grave.  Of that new system I aspire to
be a champion--a leader.  Behold the excitement that allures me, the
ambition that goads."

"Thank you," said Savarin, meekly; "I am answered.  I recognise the dwarf
perched on the back of the giant.  Quitting these lofty themes, I venture
to address to you now one simple matter-of-fact question: How about
Mademoiselle Cicogna?  Do you think you can induce her to transplant
herself to the new social system, which I presume will abolish, among
other obsolete myths, the institution of marriage?"

"M. Savarin, your question offends me.  Theoretically I am opposed to the
existing superstitions that encumber the very simple principle by which
may be united two persons so long as they desire the union, and separated
so soon as the union becomes distasteful to either.  But I am perfectly
aware that such theories would revolt a young lady like Mademoiselle
Cicogna.  I have never even named them to her, and our engagement holds
good."

"Engagement of marriage?  No period for the ceremony fixed?"

"That is not my fault.  I urged it on Isaura with all earnestness before
I left my father's house."

"That was long after the siege had begun.  Listen to me, Gustave.  No
persuasion of mine or my wife's, nor Mrs. Morley's, could induce Isaura
to quit Paris while it was yet time.  She said very simply that, having
pledged her truth and hand to you, it would be treason to honour and duty
if she should allow any considerations for herself to be even discussed
so long as you needed her presence.  You were then still suffering, and,
though convalescent, not without danger of a relapse.  And your mother
said to her--I heard the words: ''Tis not for his bodily health I could
dare to ask you to stay, when every man who can afford it is sending away
his wife, sisters, daughters.  As for that, I should suffice to tend him;
but if you go, I resign all hope for the health of his mind and his
soul.'  I think at Paris there may be female poets and artists whom that
sort of argument would not have much influenced.  But it so happens that
Isaura is not a Parisienne.  She believes in those old myths which you
think fatal to sympathies with yourself; and those old myths also lead
her to believe that where a woman has promised she will devote her life
to a man, she cannot forsake him when told by his mother that she is
necessary to the health of his mind and his soul.  Stay.  Before you
interrupt me, let me finish what I have to say.  It appears that, so soon
as your bodily health was improved, you felt that your mind and your soul
could take care of themselves; and certainly it seems to me that Isaura
Cicogna is no longer of the smallest use to either."

Rameau was evidently much disconcerted by this speech.  He saw what
Savarin was driving at--the renunciation of all bond between Isaura and
himself.  He was not prepared for such renunciation.  He still felt for
the Italian as much of love as he could feel for any woman who did not
kneel at his feet, as at those of Apollo condescending to the homage of
Arcadian maids.  But on the one hand, he felt that many circumstances had
occurred since the disaster at Sedan to render Isaura a very much less
desirable _partie_ than she had been when he had first wrung from her the
pledge of betrothal.  In the palmy times of a Government in which
literature and art commanded station and insured fortune, Isaura, whether
as authoress or singer, was a brilliant marriage for Gustave Rameau.  She
had also then an assured and competent, if modest, income.  But when
times change, people change with them.  As the income for the moment (and
Heaven only can say how long that moment might last), Isaura's income had
disappeared.  It will be recollected that Louvier had invested her whole
fortune in the houses to be built in the street called after his name.
No houses, even when built, paid any rent now.  Louvier had quitted
Paris; and Isaura could only be subsisting upon such small sum as she
might have had in hand before the siege commenced.  All career in such
literature and art as Isaura adorned was at a dead stop.  Now, to do
Rameau justice, he was by no means an avaricious or mercenary man.  But
he yearned for modes of life to which money was essential.  He liked his
"comforts;" and his comforts included the luxuries of elegance and show-
comforts not to be attained by marriage with Isaura under existing
circumstances.

Nevertheless it is quite true that he had urged her to marry him at once,
before he had quitted his father's house; and her modest shrinking from
such proposal, however excellent the reasons for delay in the national
calamities of the time, as well as the poverty which the calamity
threatened, had greatly wounded his _amour propre_.  He had always felt
that her affection for him was not love; and though he could reconcile
himself to that conviction when many solid advantages were attached to
the prize of her love, and when he was ill, and penitent, and maudlin,
and the calm affection of a saint seemed to him infinitely preferable to
the vehement passion of a sinner,--yet when Isaura was only Isaura by
herself--Isaura minus all the _et cetera_ which had previously been taken
into account--the want of adoration for himself very much lessened her
value.

Still, though he acquiesced in the delayed fulfilment of the engagement
with Isaura, he had no thought of withdrawing from the engagement itself,
and after a slight pause he replied: "You do me great injustice if you
suppose that the occupations to which I devote myself render me less
sensible to the merits of Mademoiselle Cicogna, or less eager for our
union.  On the contrary, I will confide to you--as a man of the world--
one main reason why I quitted my father's house, and why I desire to keep
my present address a secret.  Mademoiselle Caumartin conceived for me a
passion--a caprice--which was very flattering for a time, but which
latterly became very troublesome.  Figure to yourself--she daily came to
our house while I was lying ill, and with the greatest difficulty my
mother got her out of it.  That was not all.  She pestered me with
letters containing all sorts of threats--nay, actually kept watch at the
house; and one day when I entered the carriage with my mother and Signora
Venosta for a drive in the Bois (meaning to call for Isaura by the way),
she darted to the carriage-door, caught my hand, and would have made a
scene if the coachman had given her leave to do so.  Luckily he had the
tact to whip on his horses, and we escaped.  I had some little difficulty
in convincing the Signora Venosta that the girl was crazed.  But I felt
the danger I incurred of her coming upon me some moment when in company
with Isaura, and so I left my father's house; and naturally wishing to
steer clear of this vehement little demon till I am safely married, I
keep my address a secret from all who are likely to tell her of it."

"You do wisely if you are really afraid of her, and cannot trust your
nerves to say to her plainly, 'I am engaged to be married; all is at an
end between us.  Do not force me to employ the police to protect myself
from unwelcome importunities.'"

"Honestly speaking, I doubt if I have the nerve to do that, and I doubt
still more if it would be of any avail.  It is very _ennuayant_ to be so
passionately loved; but, _que voulez vous_?  It is my fate."

"Poor martyr!  I condole with you: and, to say truth, it was chiefly to
warn you of Mademoiselle Caumartin's pertinacity that I call this
evening."

Here Savarin related the particulars of his _rencontre_ with Julie, and
concluded by saying: "I suppose I may take your word of honour that you
will firmly resist all temptation to renew a connection which would be so
incompatible with the respect due to your fiancee?  Fatherless and
protectorless as Isaura is, I feel bound to act as a virtual guardian to
one in whom my wife takes so deep an interest, and to whom, as she
thinks, she had some hand in bringing about your engagement: she is
committed to no small responsibilities.  Do not allow poor Julie, whom I
sincerely pity, to force on me the unpleasant duty of warning your
fiancee of the dangers to which she might be subjected by marriage with
an Adonis whose fate it is to be so profoundly beloved by the sex in
general, and ballet nymphs in particular."

"There is no chance of so disagreeable a duty being incumbent on you,
M. Savarin.  Of course, what I myself have told you in confidence is
sacred."

"Certainly.  There are things in the life of a _garcon_ before marriage
which would be an affront to the modesty of his _fiancee_ to communicate
and discuss.  But then those things must belong exclusively to the past
and cast no shadow over the future.  I will not interrupt you further.
No doubt you have work for the night before you.  Do the Red journalists
for whom you write pay enough to support you in these terribly dear
times?"

"Scarcely.  But I look forward to wealth and fame in the future.  And
you?"

"I just escape starvation.  If the siege last much longer, it is not of
the gout I shall die.  Good-night to you."



CHAPTER XVI.

Isaura had, as we have seen, been hitherto saved by the siege and its
consequences from the fulfilment of her engagement to Gustave Rameau; and
since he had quitted his father's house she had not only seen less of
him, but a certain chill crept into his converse in the visits he paid to
her.  The compassionate feeling his illness had excited, confirmed by the
unwonted gentleness of his mood, and the short-lived remorse with which
he spoke of his past faults and follies, necessarily faded away in
proportion as he regained that kind of febrile strength which was his
normal state of health, and with it the arrogant self-assertion which was
ingrained in his character.  But it was now more than ever that she
became aware of the antagonism between all that constituted his inner
life and her own.  It was not that he volunteered in her presence the
express utterance of those opinions, social or religious, which he
addressed to the public in the truculent journal to which, under a _nom
de plume_, he was the most inflammatory contributor.  Whether it was that
he shrank from insulting the ears of the pure virgin whom he had wooed as
wife with avowals of his disdain of marriage bonds, or perhaps from
shocking yet more her womanly humanity and her religious faith by cries
for the blood of anti-republican traitors and the downfall of Christian
altars; or whether he yet clung, though with relapsing affection, to the
hold which her promise had imposed on him, and felt that that hold would
be for ever gone, and that she would recoil from his side in terror and
dismay, if she once learned that the man who had implored her to be his
saving angel from the comparatively mild errors of youth, had so belied
his assurance, so mocked her credulity, as deliberately to enter into
active warfare against all that he knew her sentiments regarded as noble
and her conscience received as divine: despite the suppression of avowed
doctrine on his part, the total want of sympathy between these
antagonistic natures made itself felt by both--more promptly felt by
Isaura.  If Gustave did not frankly announce to her in that terrible time
(when all that a little later broke out on the side of the Communists was
more or less forcing ominous way to the lips of those who talked with
confidence to each other, whether to approve or to condemn) the
associates with whom he was leagued, the path to which he had committed
his career--still for her instincts for genuine Art--which for its
development needs the serenity of peace, which for its ideal needs dreams
that soar into the Infinite--Gustave had only the scornful sneer of the
man who identifies with his ambition the violent upset of all that
civilisation has established in this world, and the blank negation of all
that patient hope and heroic aspiration which humanity carries on into
the next.

On his side, Gustave Rameau, who was not without certain fine and
delicate attributes in a complicated nature over which the personal
vanity and the mobile temperament of the Parisian reigned supreme, chafed
at the restraints imposed on him.  No matter what a man's doctrines may
be--however abominable you and I may deem them--man desires to find, in
the dearest fellowship he can establish, that sympathy in the woman his
choice singles out from her sex-deference to his opinions, sympathy with
his objects, as man.  So, too, Gustave's sense of honour and according to
his own Parisian code that sense was keen--became exquisitely stung by
the thought that he was compelled to play the part of a mean dissimulator
to the girl for whose opinions he had the profoundest contempt.  How
could these two, betrothed to each other, not feel, though without coming
to open dissension, that between them had flowed the inlet of water by
which they had been riven asunder?  What man, if he can imagine himself a
Gustave Rameau, can blame the revolutionist absorbed in ambitious
projects for turning the pyramid of society topsy-turvy, if he shrank
more and more from the companionship of a betrothed with whom he could
not venture to exchange three words without caution and reserve?  And
what woman can blame an Isaura if she felt a sensation of relief at the
very neglect of the affianced whom she had compassionated and could never
love?

Possibly the reader may best judge of the state of Isaura's mind at this
time by a few brief extracts from an imperfect fragmentary journal, in
which, amid saddened and lonely hours, she held converse with herself.

"One day at Enghien I listened silently to a conversation between M.
Savarin and the Englishman, who sought to explain the conception of duty
in which the German poet has given such noble utterance to the thoughts
of the German philosopher--viz., that moral aspiration has the same goal
as the artistic,--the attainment to the calm delight wherein the pain of
effort disappears in the content of achievement.  Thus in life, as in
art, it is through discipline that we arrive at freedom, and duty only
completes itself when all motives, all actions, are attuned into one
harmonious whole, and it is not striven for as duty, but enjoyed as
happiness.  M. Savarin treated this theory with the mockery with which
the French wit is ever apt to treat what it terms German mysticism.
According to him, duty must always be a hard and difficult struggle; and
he said laughingly, 'Whenever a man says, "I have done my duty," it is
with a long face and a mournful sigh.'

"Ah, how devoutly I listened to the Englishman! how harshly the
Frenchman's irony jarred upon my ears!  And yet now, in the duty that
life imposes on me, to fulfil which I strain every power vouchsafed to my
nature, and seek to crush down every impulse that rebels, where is the
promised calm, where any approach to the content of achievement?
Contemplating the way before me, the Beautiful even of Art has vanished.
I see but cloud and desert.  Can this which I assume to be duty really be
so?  Ah, is it not sin even to ask my heart that question?

"Madame Rameau is very angry with her son for his neglect both of his
parents and of me.  I have had to take his part against her.  I would not
have him lose their love.  Poor Gustave!  But when Madame Rameau suddenly
said to-day: 'I erred in seeking the union between thee and Gustave.
Retract thy promise; in doing so thou wilt be justified,'--oh, the
strange joy that flashed upon me as she spoke.  Am I justified?  Am I?
Oh, if that Englishman had never crossed my path!  Oh, if I had never
loved! or if in the last time we met he had not asked for my love, and
confessed his own!  Then, I think, I could honestly reconcile my
conscience with my longings, and say to Gustave, 'We do not suit each
other; be we both released!' But now-is it that Gustave is really changed
from what he was, when in despondence at my own lot, and in pitying
belief that I might brighten and exalt his, I plighted my troth to him?
or is it not rather that the choice I thus voluntarily made became so
intolerable a thought the moment I knew I was beloved and sought by
another; and from that moment I lost the strength I had before,--strength
to silence the voice at my own heart?  What! is it the image of that
other one which is persuading me to be false?--to exaggerate the
failings, to be blind to the merits of him who has a right to say, 'I am
what I was when thou didst pledge thyself to take me for better or for
worse'?

"Gustave has been here after an absence of several days.  He was not
alone.  The good Abbe Vertpre and Madame de Vandemar, with her son, M.
Raoul, were present.  They had come on matters connected with our
ambulance.  They do not know of my engagement to Gustave; and seeing him
in the uniform of a National Guard, the Abbe courteously addressed to him
some questions as to the possibility of checking the terrible increase of
the vice of intoxication, so alien till of late to the habits of the
Parisians, and becoming fatal to discipline and bodily endurance,--could
the number of the _cantines_ on the ramparts be more limited?  Gustave
answered with rudeness and bitter sarcasm, 'Before priests could be
critics in military matters they must undertake military service
themselves.'

"The Abbe replied with unalterable good-humour, 'But, in order to
criticise the effects of drunkenness, must one get drunk one's self?'
Gustave was put out, and retired into a corner of the room, keeping
sullen silence till my other visitors left.

"Then before I could myself express the pain his words and manner had
given me, he said abruptly, 'I wonder how you can tolerate the
_tartuferie_ which may amuse on the comic stage, but in the tragedy of
these times is revolting.'  This speech roused my anger, and the
conversation that ensued was the gravest that had ever passed between us.

"If Gustave were of stronger nature and more concentrated will, I believe
that the only feelings I should have for him would be antipathy and
dread.  But it is his very weaknesses and inconsistencies that secure to
him a certain tenderness of interest.  I think he could never be judged
without great indulgence by women; there is in him so much of the child,
--wayward, irritating one moment, and the next penitent, affectionate.
One feels as if persistence in evil were impossible to one so delicate
both in mind and form.  That peculiar order of genius to which he belongs
seems as if it ought to be so estranged from all directions, violent or
coarse.  When in poetry he seeks to utter some audacious and defying
sentiment, the substance melts away in daintiness of expression, in soft,
lute-like strains of slender music.  And when he has stung, angered,
revolted my heart the most, suddenly he subsides into such pathetic
gentleness, such tearful remorse, that I feel as if resentment to one so
helpless, desertion of one who must fall without the support of a
friendly hand, were a selfish cruelty.  It seems to me as if I were
dragged towards a precipice by a sickly child clinging to my robe.

"But in this last conversation with him, his language in regard to
subjects I hold most sacred drew forth from me words which startled him,
and which may avail to save him from that worst insanity of human minds,
--the mimicry of the Titans who would have dethroned a God to restore a
Chaos.  I told him frankly that I had only promised to share his fate on
my faith in his assurance of my power to guide it heavenward; and that if
the opinions he announced were seriously entertained, and put forth in
defiance of heaven itself, we were separated for ever.  I told him how
earnestly, in the calamities of the time, my own soul had sought to take
refuge in thoughts and hopes beyond the earth; and how deeply many a
sentiment that in former days passed by me with a smile in the light talk
of the salons, now shocked me as an outrage on the reverence which the
mortal child owes to the Divine Father.  I owned to him how much of
comfort, of sustainment, of thought and aspiration, elevated beyond the
sphere of Art in which I had hitherto sought the purest air, the loftiest
goal, I owed to intercourse with minds like those of the Abbe de Vertpre;
and how painfully I felt as if I were guilty of ingratitude when he
compelled me to listen to insults on those whom I recognised as
benefactors.

"I wished to speak sternly; but it is my great misfortune, my prevalent
weakness, that I cannot be stern when I ought to be.  It is with me in
life as in art.  I never could on the stage have taken the part of a
Norma or a Medea.  If I attempt in fiction a character which deserves
condemnation, I am untrue to poetic justice.  I cannot condemn and
execute; I can but compassionate and pardon the creature I myself have
created.  I was never in the real world stern but to one; and then, alas!
it was because I loved where I could no longer love with honour; and I,
knowing my weakness, had terror lest I should yield.

"So Gustave did not comprehend from my voice, my manner, how gravely I
was in earnest.  But, himself softened, affected to tears, he confessed
his own faults--ceased to argue in order to praise; and--and--uttering
protestations seemingly the most sincere, he left me bound to him still
--bound to him still--woe is me!"

It is true that Isaura had come more directly under the influence of
religion than she had been in the earlier dates of this narrative.  There
is a time in the lives of most of us, and especially in the lives of
women, when, despondent of all joy in an earthly future, and tortured by
conflicts between inclination and duty, we transfer all the passion and
fervour of our troubled souls to enthusiastic yearnings for the Divine
Love; seeking to rebaptise ourselves in the fountain of its mercy, taking
thence the only hopes that can cheer, the only strength that can sustain
us.  Such a time had come to Isaura.  Formerly she had escaped from the
griefs of the work-a-day world into the garden-land of Art.  Now, Art had
grown unwelcome to her, almost hateful.  Gone was the spell from the
garden-land; its flowers were faded, its paths were stony, its sunshine
had vanished in mist and rain.  There are two voices of Nature in the
soul of the genuine artist,--that is, of him who, because he can create,
comprehends the necessity of the great Creator.  Those voices are never
both silent.  When one is hushed, the other becomes distinctly audible.
The one speaks to him of Art, the other of Religion.

At that period several societies for the relief and tendance of the
wounded had been formed by the women of Paris,--the earliest, if I
mistake not, by ladies of the highest rank--amongst whom were the
Comtesse de Vandemar and the Contessa di Rimini--though it necessarily
included others of stations less elevated.  To this society, at the
request of Alain de Rochebriant and of Enguerrand, Isaura had eagerly
attached herself.  It occupied much of her time; and in connection with
it she was brought much into sympathetic acquaintance with Raoul de
Vandemar--the most zealous and active member of that Society of St.
Francois de Sales, to which belonged other young nobles of the Legitimist
creed.  The passion of Raoul's life was the relief of human suffering.
In him was personified the ideal of Christian charity.  I think all, or
most of us, have known what it is to pass under the influence of a nature
that is so far akin to ours that it desires to become something better
and higher than it is--that desire being paramount in ourselves--but
seeks to be that something in ways not akin to, but remote from, the ways
in which we seek it.  When this contact happens, either one nature, by
the mere force of will, subjugates and absorbs the other, or both, while
preserving their own individuality, apart and independent, enrich
themselves by mutual interchange, and the asperities which differences of
taste and sentiment in detail might otherwise provoke melt in the
sympathy which unites spirits striving with equal earnestness to rise
nearer to the unseen and unattainable Source, which they equally
recognise as Divine.

Perhaps, had these two persons met a year ago in the ordinary intercourse
of the world, neither would have detected the sympathy of which I speak.
Raoul was not without the prejudice against artists and writers of
romance, that is shared by many who cherish the persuasion that all is
vanity which does not concentrate imagination and intellect in the
destinies of the soul hereafter; and Isaura might have excited his
compassion, certainly not his reverence.  While to her, his views on all
that seeks to render the actual life attractive and embellished, through
the accomplishments of Muse and Grace, would have seemed the narrow-
minded asceticism of a bigot.  But now, amid the direful calamities of
the time, the beauty of both natures became visible to each.  To the eyes
of Isaura tenderness became predominant in the monastic self-denial of
Raoul.  To the eyes of Raoul, devotion became predominant in the gentle
thoughtfulness of Isaura.  Their intercourse was in ambulance and
hospital-in care for the wounded, in prayer for the dying.  Ah! it is
easy to declaim against the frivolities and vices of Parisian society as
they appear on the surface; and, in revolutionary times, it is the very
worst of Paris that ascends in scum to the top.  But descend below the
surface, even in that demoralising suspense of order, and nowhere on
earth might the angel have beheld the image of humanity more amply
vindicating its claim to the heritage of heaven.



CHAPTER XVII.

The warning announcement of some great effort on the part of the
besieged, which Alain had given to Lemercier, was soon to be fulfilled.

For some days the principal thoroughfares were ominously lined with
military _convois_.  The loungers on the Boulevards stopped to gaze on
the long defiles of troops and cannons, commissariat conveyances, and,
saddening accompaniments! the vehicles of various ambulances for the
removal of the wounded.  With what glee the loungers said to each other
"_Enfin_!"  Among all the troops that Paris sent forth, none were so
popular as those which Paris had not nurtured--the sailors.  From the
moment they arrived, the sailors had been the pets of the capital.  They
soon proved themselves the most notable contrast to that force which
Paris herself had produced--the National Guard.  Their frames were hardy,
their habits active, their discipline perfect, their manners mild and
polite.  "Oh, if all our troops were like these!" was the common
exclamation of the Parisians.

At last burst forth upon Paris the proclamations of General Trochu and
General Ducrot; the first brief, calm, and Breton-like, ending with
"Putting our trust in God.  March on for our country:" the second more
detailed, more candidly stating obstacles and difficulties, but fiery
with eloquent enthusiasm, not unsupported by military statistics, in the
400 cannon, two-thirds of which were of the largest calibre, that no
material object could resist; more than 150,000 soldiers, all well armed,
well equipped, abundantly provided with munitions, and all (_j'en a
l'espoir_) animated by an irresistible ardour.  "For me," concludes the
General, "I am resolved.  I swear before you, before the whole nation,
that I will not re-enter Paris except as dead or victorious."

At these proclamations, who then at Paris does not recall the burst of
enthusiasm that stirred the surface?  Trochu became once more popular;
even the Communistic or atheistic journals refrained from complaining
that he attended mass, and invited his countrymen to trust in God.
Ducrot was more than popular--he was adored.

The several companies in which De Mauleon and Enguerrand served departed
towards their post early on the same morning, that of the 28th.  All the
previous night, while Enguerrand was buried in profound slumber, Raoul
remained in his brother's room; sometimes on his knees before the ivory
crucifix which had been their mother's last birthday gift to her youngest
son--sometimes seated beside the bed in profound and devout meditation.
At daybreak, Madame de Vandemar stole into the chamber.  Unconscious of
his brother's watch, he had asked her to wake him in good time, for the
young man was a sound sleeper.  Shading the candle she bore with one
hand, with the other she drew aside the curtain, and looked at
Enguerrand's calm fair face, its lips parted in the happy smile which
seemed to carry joy with it wherever its sunshine played.  Her tears fell
noiselessly on her darling's cheek; she then knelt down and prayed for
strength.  As she rose she felt Raoul's arm around her; they looked at
each other in silence; then she bowed her head and wakened Enguerrand
with her lips.  "_Pas de querelle, mes amis_," he murmured, opening his
sweet blue eyes drowsily.  "Ah, it was a dream!  I thought Jules and
Emile [two young friends of his] were worrying each other; and you know,
dear Raoul, that I am the most officious of peacemakers.  Time to rise,
is it?  No peacemaking to-day.  Kiss me again, mother, and say 'Bless
thee.'"

"Bless thee, bless thee, my child," cried the mother, wrapping her arms
passionately round him, and in tones choked with sobs.

"Now leave me, _maman_," said Enguerrand, resorting to the infantine
ordinary name, which he had not used for years.  "Raoul, stay and help me
to dress.  I must be _tres beau_ to-day.  I shall join thee at breakfast,
_maman_.  Early for such repast, but _l'appetit vient en mangeant_.  Mind
the coffee is hot."

Enguerrand, always careful of each detail of dress, was especially so
that morning, and especially gay, humming the old air, "_Partant pour la
Syrie_."  But his gaiety was checked when Raoul, taking from his breast a
holy talisman, which he habitually wore there, suspended it with loving
hands round his brother's neck.  It was a small crystal set in Byzantine
filigree; imbedded in it was a small splinter of wood, said by pious
tradition to be a relic of the Divine Cross.  It had been for centuries
in the family of the Contessa di Rimini, and was given by her to Raoul,
the only gift she had ever made him, as an emblem of the sinless purity
of the affection that united those two souls in the bonds of the
beautiful belief.

"She bade me transfer it to thee to-day, my brother," said Raoul, simply;
"and now without a pang I can gird on thee thy soldier's sword."

Enguerrand clasped his brother in his arms, and kissed him with
passionate fervour.  "Oh, Raoul, how I love thee! how good thou hast ever
been to me! how many sins thou hast saved me from! how indulgent thou
hast been to those from which thou couldst not save!  Think on that, my
brother, in case we do not meet again on earth."

"Hush, hush, Enguerrand!  No gloomy forebodings now!  Come, come hither,
my half of life, my sunny half of life!" and uttering these words, he led
Enguerrand towards the crucifix, and there, in deeper and more solemn
voice, said, "Let us pray."  So the brothers knelt side by side, and
Raoul prayed aloud as only such souls can pray.

When they descended into the salon where breakfast was set out, they
found assembled several of their relations, and some of Enguerrand's
young friends not engaged in the sortie.  One or two of the latter,
indeed, were disabled from fighting by wounds in former fields; they left
their sick-beds to bid him good-bye.  Unspeakable was the affection this
genial nature inspired in all who came into the circle of its winning
magic; and when, tearing himself from them, he descended the stair, and
passed with light step through the _Porte cochere_, there was a crowd
around the house--so widely had his popularity spread among even the
lower classes, from which the Mobiles in his regiment were chiefly
composed.  He departed to the place of rendezvous amid a chorus of
exhilarating cheers.

Not thus lovingly tended on, not thus cordially greeted, was that equal
idol of a former generation, Victor de Mauleon.  No pious friend prayed
beside his couch, no loving kiss waked him from his slumbers.  At the
grey of the November dawn he rose from a sleep which had no smiling
dreams, with that mysterious instinct of punctual will which cannot even
go to sleep without fixing beforehand the exact moment in which sleep
shall end.  He, too, like Enguerrand, dressed himself with care--unlike
Enguerrand, with care strictly soldier-like.  Then, seeing he had some
little time yet before him, he rapidly revisited the pigeonholes and
drawers in which might be found by prying eyes anything he would deny to
them curiosity.  All that he found of this sort were some letters in
female handwriting, tied together with faded ribbon, relics of earlier
days, and treasured throughout later vicissitudes; letters from the
English girl to whom he had briefly referred in his confession to
Louvier,--the only girl he had ever wooed as his wife.  She was the only
daughter of highborn Roman Catholics, residing at the time of his youth
in Paris.  Reluctantly they had assented to his proposals; joyfully they
had retracted their assent when his affairs had become so involved; yet
possibly the motive that led him to his most ruinous excesses--the
gambling of the turf--had been caused by the wild hope of a nature, then
fatally sanguine, to retrieve the fortune that might suffice to satisfy
the parents.  But during his permitted courtship the lovers had
corresponded.  Her letters were full of warm, if innocent, tenderness--
till came the last cold farewell.  The family had long ago returned to
England; he concluded, of course, that she had married another.

Near to these letters lay the papers which had served to vindicate his
honour in that old affair, in which the unsought love of another had
brought on him shame and affliction.  As his eye fell on the last, he
muttered to him self, "I kept these, to clear my repute.  Can I keep
those, when, if found, they might compromise the repute of her who might
have been my wife had I been worthy of her?  She is doubtless now
another's; or, if dead,--honour never dies."  He pressed his lips to the
letters with a passionate, lingering, mournful kiss; then, raking up the
ashes of yesterday's fire, and rekindling them, he placed thereon those
leaves of a melancholy romance in his past, and watched them slowly,
reluctantly smoulder away into tinder.  Then he opened a drawer in which
lay the only paper of a political character which he had preserved.  All
that related to plots or conspiracies in which his agency had committed
others, it was his habit to destroy as soon as received.  For the sole
document thus treasured he alone was responsible; it was an outline of
his ideal for the future constitution of France, accompanied with
elaborate arguments, the heads of which his conversation with the
Incognito made known to the reader.  Of the soundness of this political
programme, whatever its merits or faults (a question on which I presume
no judgment), he had an intense conviction.  He glanced rapidly over its
contents, did not alter a word, sealed it up in an envelope, inscribed,
"My Legacy to my Countrymen."  The papers refuting a calumny relating
solely to himself he carried into the battle-field, placed next to his
heart,--significant of a Frenchman's love of honour in this world--as the
relic placed round the neck of Enguerrand by his pious brother was
emblematic of the Christian hope of mercy in the next.



CHAPTER XVIII.

The streets swarmed with the populace troops as they passed to their
destination.  Among those of the Mobiles who especially caught the eye
were two companies in which Enguerrand de Vandemar and Victor de Mauleon
commanded.  In the first were many young men of good family, or in the
higher ranks of the bourgeoisie, known to numerous lookers-on; there was
something inspiriting in their gay aspects, and in the easy carelessness
of their march.  Mixed with this company, however, and forming of course
the bulk of it, were those who belonged to the lower classes of the
population; and though they too might seem gay to an ordinary observer,
the gaiety was forced.  Many of them were evidently not quite sober; and
there was a disorderly want of soldiership in their mien and armament
which inspired distrust among such vieux moustaches as, too old for other
service than that of the ramparts, mixed here and there among the crowd.

But when De Mauleon's company passed, the _vieux moustaches_ impulsively
touched each other.  They recognised the march of well-drilled men; the
countenances grave and severe, the eyes not looking on this side and that
for admiration, the step regularly timed; and conspicuous among these men
the tall stature and calm front of the leader.

"These fellows will fight well," growled a _vieux moustache_, "where did
they fish out their leader?"

"Don't you know?" said a bourgeois_.  "Victor de Mauleon.  He won the
cross in Algeria for bravery.  I recollect him when I was very young; the
very devil for women and fighting."

"I wish there were more such devils for fighting and fewer for women,"
growled again _le vieux moustache_.

One incessant roar of cannon all the night of the 29th.  The populace had
learned the names of the French cannons, and fancied they could
distinguish the several sounds of their thunder.  "There spits
'Josephine'!" shouts an invalid sailor.  "There howls our own
'Populace'!" cries a Red Republican from Belleville.

     [The "Populace" had been contributed to the artillery,
     _sou d sou_, by the working class.]

"There sings 'Le Chatiment'!" laughed Gustave Rameau, who was now become
an enthusiastic admirer of the Victor Hugo he had before affected to
despise.  And all the while, mingled with the roar of the cannon, came,
far and near from the streets, from the ramparts, the gusts of song--song
sometimes heroic, sometimes obscene, more often carelessly joyous.  The
news of General Vinoy's success during the early part of the day had been
damped by the evening report of Ducrot's delay in crossing the swollen
Marne.  But the spirits of the Parisians rallied from a momentary
depression on the excitement at night of that concert of martial music.

During that night, close under the guns of the double redoubt of Gravelle
and La Faisanderie, eight pontoon-bridges were thrown over the Marne; and
at daybreak the first column of the third army under Blanchard and
Renoult crossed with all their artillery, and, covered by the fire of the
double redoubts, of the forts of Vincennes, Nogent, Rossuey, and the
batteries of Mont Avron, had an hour before noon carried the village of
Champingy, and the first echelon of the important plateau of Villiers,
and were already commencing the work of intrenchment, when, rallying from
the amaze of a defeat, the German forces burst upon them, sustained by
fresh batteries.  The Prussian pieces of artillery established at
Chennevieres and at Neuilly opened fire with deadly execution; while a
numerous infantry, descending from the intrenchments of Villiers, charged
upon the troops under Renoult.  Among the French in that strife were
Enguerrand and the Mobiles of which he was in command.  Dismayed by the
unexpected fire, these Mobiles gave way, as indeed did many of the line.
Enguerrand rushed forward to the front: "On, _mes enfans_, on!  What will
our mothers and wives say of us if we fly?  _Vive la France_!--On!"
Among those of the better class in that company there rose a shout of
applause, but it found no sympathy among the rest.  They wavered, they
turned.  "Will you suffer me to go on alone, countrymen?" cried
Enguerrand; and alone he rushed on towards the Prussian line--rushed, and
fell, mortally wounded, by a musket-ball.  "Revenge, revenge!" shouted
some of the foremost; "Revenge!" shouted those in the rear; and, so
shouting, turned on their heels and fled.  But ere they could disperse
they encountered the march, steadfast though rapid, of the troop led by
Victor de Mauleon.  "Poltroons!" he thundered, with the sonorous depth of
his strong voice, "halt and turn, or my men shall fire on you as
deserters."

"Va, citoyen," said one fugitive, an officer-popularly elected, because
he was the loudest brawler in the club of the Salle Favre,--we have seen
him before--Charles, the brother of Armand Monnier;--"men can't fight
when they despise their generals.  It is our generals who are poltroons
and fools both."

"Carry my answer to the ghosts of cowards," cried De Mauldon, and shot
the man dead.

His followers, startled and cowed by the deed, and the voice and the look
of the death-giver, halted.  The officers, who had at first yielded to
the panic of their men, took fresh courage, and finally led the bulk of
the troop back to their, post "enlevis a la baionette," to use the phrase
of a candid historian of that day.

Day, on the whole, not inglorious to France.  It was the first, if it was
the last, really important success of the besieged.  They remained
masters of the ground, the Prussians leaving to them the wounded and the
dead.

That night what crowds thronged from Paris to the top of the Montmartre
heights, from the observatory on which the celebrated inventor Bazin had
lighted up, with some magical electric machine, all the plain of
Gennevilliers from Mont Valerien to the Fort de la Briche!  The splendour
of the blaze wrapped the great city;--distinctly above the roofs of the
houses soared the Dome des Invalides, the spires of Notre Dame, the giant
turrets of the Tuileries;--and died away on resting on the _infames
scapulos Acroceraunia_, the "thunder crags" of the heights occupied by
the invading army.

Lemercier, De Breze, and the elder Rameau--who, despite his peaceful
habits and grey hairs, insisted on joining in the aid of _la patrie_--
were among the National Guards attached to the Fort de la Briche and the
neighbouring eminence, and they met in conversation.

"What a victory we have had!" said the old Rameau.

"Rather mortifying to your son, M. Rameau," said LeMercier.

"Mortifying to my son, sir!--the victory of his countrymen.  What do you
mean?"

"I had the honour to hear M. Gustave the other night at the club de la
Vengeance."

"Bon Dieu! do you frequent those tragic reunions?" asked De Breze.

"They are not at all tragic: they are the only comedies left us, as one
must amuse one's self somewhere, and the club de la Vengeance is the
prettiest thing of the sort going.  I quite understand why it should
fascinate a poet like your son, M. Rameau.  It is held in a _salle de
cafe chantant_--style _Louis Quinze_--decorated with a pastoral scene
from Watteau.  I and my dog Fox drop in.  We hear your son haranguing.
In what poetical sentences he despaired of the Republic!  The Government
(he called them _les charlatans de l'Hotel de Ville_) were imbeciles.
They pretended to inaugurate a revolution, and did not employ the most
obvious of revolutionary means.  There Fox and I pricked up our ears:
what were those means?  Your son proceeded to explain: 'All mankind were
to be appealed to against individual interests.  The commerce of luxury
was to be abolished.  Clearly luxury was not at the command of all
mankind.  Cafes and theatres were to be closed for ever--all mankind
could not go to cafes and theatres.  It was idle to expect the masses to
combine for anything in which the masses had not an interest in common.
The masses had no interest in any property that did not belong to the
masses.  Programmes of the society to be founded, called the Ligue
Cosmopolite Democratique, should be sent at once into all the States of
the civilised world--how?  by balloons.  Money corrupts the world as now
composed: but the money at the command of the masses could buy all the
monarchs and courtiers and priests of the universe.'  At that sentiment,
vehemently delivered, the applauses were frantic, and Fox in his
excitement began to bark.  At the sound of his bark one man cried out,
'That's a Prussian!' another, 'Down with the spy!' another, 'There's an
aristo present--he keeps alive a dog which would be a week's meal for a
family!'  I snatch up Fox at the last cry, and clasp him to a bosom
protected by the uniform of the National Guard.

"When the hubbub had subsided, your son, M. Rameau, proceeded, quitting
mankind in general, and arriving at the question in particular most
interesting to his audience--the mobilisation of the National Guard; that
is, the call upon men who like talking and hate fighting to talk less and
fight more.  'It was the sheerest tyranny to select a certain number of
free citizens to be butchered.  If the fight was for the mass, there
ought to be _la levee en masse_.  If one did not compel everybody to
fight, why should anybody fight?'  Here the applause again became
vehement, and Fox again became indiscreet.  I subdued Fox's bark into a
squeak by pulling his ears.  'What!' cries your poet-son, '_la levee en
masse_ gives us fifteen millions of soldiers, with which we could crush,
not Prussia alone, but the whole of Europe.  (Immense sensation.)  Let
us, then, resolve that the charlatans of the _Hotel de Ville_ are
incapable of delivering us from the Prussians; that they are deposed;
that the _Ligue_ of the _Democratie Cosmopolite_ is installed; that
meanwhile the Commune shall be voted the Provisional Government, and
shall order the Prussians to retire within three days from the soil of
Paris.'

"Pardon me this long description, my dear M. Rameau, but I trust I have
satisfactorily explained why victory obtained in the teeth of his
eloquent opinions, if gratifying to him as a Frenchman, must be
mortifying to him as a politician."

The old Rameau sighed, hung his head, and crept away.  While, amid this
holiday illumination, the Parisians enjoyed the panorama before them, the
_Freres Chretiens_ and the attendants of the various ambulances were
moving along the battle-plains; the first in their large-brimmed hats and
sable garbs, the last in strange motley costume, many of them in
glittering uniform--all alike in their serene indifference to danger;
often pausing to pick up among the dead their own brethren who had been
slaughtered in the midst of their task.  Now and then they came on
sinister forms apparently engaged in the same duty of tending the wounded
and dead, but in truth murderous plunderers, to whom the dead and the
dying were equal harvests.  Did the wounded man attempt to resist the
foul hands searching for their spoil, they added another wound more
immediately mortal, grinning as they completed on the dead the robbery
they had commenced on the dying.

Raoul de Vandemar had been all the earlier part of the day with the
assistants of the ambulance over which he presided, attached to the
battalions of the National Guard in a quarter remote from that in which
his brother had fought and fallen.  When those troops, later in the day,
were driven from the Montmedy plateau, which they had at first carried,
Raoul repassed towards the plateau at Villiers, on which the dead lay
thickest.  On the way he heard a vague report of the panic which had
dispersed the Mobiles of whom Enguerrand was in command, and of
Enguerrand's vain attempt to inspirit them.  But his fate was not known.
There, at midnight, Raoul is still searching among the ghastly heaps and
pools of blood, lighted from afar by the blaze from the observatory of
Montmartre, and more near at hand by the bivouac fires extended along the
banks to the left of the Marne, while everywhere about the field flitted
the lanterns of the _Frere Chretiens_.  Suddenly, in the dimness of a spot
cast into shadow by an incompleted earthwork, he observed a small
sinister figure perched on the breast of some wounded soldier, evidently
not to succour.  He sprang forward and seized a hideous-looking urchin,
scarcely twelve years old, who held in one hand a small crystal locket,
set in filigree gold, torn from the soldier's breast, and lifted high in
the other a long case-knife.  At a glance Raoul recognised the holy relic
he had given to Enguerrand, and, flinging the precocious murderer to be
seized by his assistants, he cast himself beside his brother.  Enguerrand
still breathed, and his languid eyes brightened as he knew the dear
familiar face.  He tried to speak, but his voice failed, and he shook
his head sadly, but still with a faint smile on his lips.  They lifted
him tenderly, and placed him on a litter.  The movement, gentle as it
was, brought back pain, and with the pain strength to mutter, "My mother
---I would see her once more."

As at daybreak the loungers on Montmartre and the ramparts descended into
the streets--most windows in which were open, as they had been all night,
with anxious female faces peering palely down-they saw the conveyances of
the ambulances coming dismally along, and many an eye turned wistfully
towards the litter on which lay the idol of the pleasure-loving Paris,
with the dark, bareheaded figure walking beside it,--onwards, onwards,
till it reached the Hotel de Vandemar, and a woman's cry was heard at the
entrance--the mother's cry, "My son! my son!"





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Parisians — Volume 11" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home